Three local teens win gold medals at FCCLA national convention in Chicago

National champions ... In April, the Philip FCCLA chapter showcase display team won the South Dakota state championship. Over July 4-8 they competed at the national convention in Chicago, Ill. There, they earned the gold medal and are national champions in their event. Shown above, from left, are team members Abby Carley, Emma Slovek and Colby Smith with their gold medals. To the right, advisor Brigitte Brucklacher joins them. Photo by Deb Smith

More than 6,100 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members, advisers, alumni and guests from across the country gathered in Chicago, Ill., July 4-8, for FCCLA's 2010 National Leadership Conference.

Over 3,200 students took part in FCCLA's competitive STAR events which give students recognition for their individual, team and chapter activities. Representing South Dakota and the Philip FCCLA chapter in the STAR event chapter showcase display were Abby Carley, Emma Slovek and Colby Smith. During the South Dakota state meeting in April, the Philip ladies qualified for the national competition. At nationals, they earned a gold medal rating, the highest level that could be achieved. Also attending the national meeting from Philip were advisor Brigitte Brucklacher, Philip FCCLA member Sayde Slovek, and parents Marie Slovek, Deb Smith and Karen Carley.

Philip has not sent a team to nationals in six years and it has been 11 years since Philip had national champions. "I was very proud of my members' performance and for their hard work leading up to this competitive event," said Brucklacher.

The conference marked a milestone birthday for FCCLA and celebrated 65 years of leadership. Commencing with a gala with a July 4th birthday theme on Navy Pier, the conference continued throughout the week. Participants actively confronted the issues and challenges facing youth today, and worked towards gaining the life skills needed to meet those challenges. This year FCCLA had collaborated with Children's Miracle Network to encourage chapters across the nation to raise funds for children's hospitals and foundations throughout the United States, and the chapters combined to raise $241,590.

As well as attending the national meeting, the ladies did some Chicago sightseeing. The girls wore their purple FCCLA shirts at the famous Navy Pier, where the FCCLA convention gathered to watch a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display, with Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline in the background. The Philip group attended the Broadway musical Billy Elliot at the Oriental Theater.

FCCLA is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has over 200,000 members and over 6,500 chapters from 50 state associations, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The organization has involved more than 10 million youth since its founding in 1945.

FCCLA: The Ultimate Leadership Experience is unique among youth organizations because its programs are planned and run by members. It is the only career and technical in-school student organization with the family as its central focus. Participation in national programs and chapter activities helps members become strong leaders in their families, careers and communities.