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National recognition for local delegate

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

Alexis J. Crowther, Madison Rambin and Bailey Coombes from the Medina Chapter of FCCLA attended the National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, last week. AJ Crowther earned a Silver Medal in Jr. Sports Nutrition (for eighth and nineth graders) while Rambin and Coombes attended leadership workshops.
“This is the third year in a row that our chapter has medaled at Nationals,” said Sherri Kelly, MISD Family and Consumer Science teacher and Medina FCCLA advisor and mother of AJ Crowther. Medina has only had an FCCLA Chapter for four years. The first year a FCCLA delegate didn’t win nationals, but he was awarded a college scholarship, in part, because of his involvement in FCCLA.
The Sports Nutrition competition that Crowther medaled in included three days of menu planning for a hypothetical student athlete. In this event, the judges first presented a scenario to the delegates: The judges played the role of student athlete and the delegate played the role of nutritionist.
Crowther was challenged to develop a nutritional program for a softball player who was allergic to gluten. She developed a menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks, a hydration plan and incorporated the hypothetical student’s school schedule. Crowther then followed her own plan to see how it really worked. She roped her friends into the experiment, too.
Content is one criterion for judging the competition, along with the actual presentation of the content. Crowther presented a folder with a written report documenting all of her nutritional advice and her reasoning in choosing the advice.
“And we use MLA style,” Crowther said, already familiar with collegiate standards and expectations in using Modern Language Association style for scholarly writing.
“FCCLA is the largest student-led organization that’s all about family,” Crowther said.
FCCLA, which stands for Family Career and Community Leaders of America, was formerly known as FHA (Future Homemakers of America). But since 1999, when FHA became FCCLA, the organization has understandably emphasized “career” — one of the major ways it is distinct from the original organization.
While in Nashville, all of the young people attending the FCCLA Conference were treated to a country western music concert featuring Dan and Shay. They saw the largest fireworks show in the nation and got to hear the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
“It was an adventure,” Kelly said, of being chaperone to three young women in Nashville. “But I will say, all of our Texas delegates represented our state with pride and class. You could tell the ones from Texas.”
When asked to elaborate Kelly said, “Manners. How they interact with others, how they dress.” She also said the competition was much more fierce within the state than at the national level.
“It’s harder to make it out of State than it is to compete at the Nationals,” Kelly said.
Crowther, who will be a sophomore in high school next year, made two other stops on her way to the FCCLA National Conference. She was invited to participate in the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
“We heard so many amazing speakers,” Crowther said. She heard 13-year-old Jack Andrake describe blowing up his family’s backyard on his way to success in developing a test for pancreatic cancer that only costs three cent and is 98 percent effective. “He was so funny!”
She was inspired listening to a Nobel Prize winning physicist. And she heard a 15-year-old describe how he invented a way to clean up pollution from rivers. And she was in the first audience to see a highly specialized robot developed at MIT, and so much more, she said.
Crowther is already thinking about her career, too, and how she’ll get there.
“A lot of people in my family are in the army and so I knew I would go the Army route and I thought I might as well go all the way and go to West Point.”
To that end, Susan Junker made it possible for Crowther to visit West Point this summer.
“I was introduced to AJ and her mother, Sherry, about a year ago,” Junker said. “I had successfully supported another Bandera County student, Scott Pofahl (BHS, Class of 2013) who is now entering his junior year at West Point. It is a privilege to assist in any way possible to help AJ reach her goal, which prepares her to serve our nation.”
Crowther helped Junker catalogue model airplanes for the American Legion this summer. She was amazed at the realistic details and how many different planes there were.
“From the start, AJ was determined, focused, ready to learn — and take action on the recommendations she received,” Junker said. “She has a very organized plan to reach her goal of attending West Point. This is critical. The acceptance rate at West Point is nine percent — extremely selective. Community support for academic, athletic and leadership opportunities is very helpful in the application process. A nomination from a member of Congress is also required.
As for her trip to West Point, “A female cadet gave me the tour,” Crowther said. “It’s a beautiful campus, and the library — oh my gosh!”
This summer, Crowther is teaching herself sign language from an online class, getting her driver’s permit, heading to the FFA State Convention in Corpus Christi to elect new officers, and already enrolled to take 4 dual enrollment classes starting in the Fall for which she’ll receive high school and college credit.
When asked how she manages her time so well, she replied, “My Mom. She gets me where I need to be.”