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Acorn FCCLA Attends Cluster Meeting in Little Rock

A delegation consisting of Irune Arruti, Harly Dearing, Bridgette Magness, Goulwena Meziere, Alyson Nichols, Elena Pham, Jared Standridge, George Wei, Brittany Wilhite, chaperone Bill Hays and adviser Annette Hays traveled to Little Rock for the 2014 Cluster Meeting hosted by our state.  This year’s theme was “Together We Are FCCLA!”  Aly Nichols made all the contacts and plans for an educational and fun-packed pre-conference day on Thursday.  The group toured:  the Clinton Library, featuring the Chihuly Glass Display; Heifer International Headquarters, where they had lunch at the Heifer Café; the Museum of Discovery and the Altitude Trampoline Park, followed by dinner at Cheddar’s.  Friday morning was spent exploring the River Market and eating lunch. Cluster officially kicked off at 1:00 with the opening general session, where there were over 3000 students in attendance from eleven states.  Due to early arrival, our foreign exchange students were able to visit personally for about fifteen minutes with FCCLA National President, Laura Taylor, from Virginia.  She shared with them how FCCLA is entirely student led and how she organizes her time in order to maintain her good grades, relationships with teachers and yet do all the traveling she has gotten to do this year.  The rest of the afternoon was spent attending breakout sessions such as “Take a Seat: FCCLA at the Table,” FCCLA’s newest national campaign with the goal of 70,000 members pledging to plan and prepare meals for their family.  Students could also choose to attend skills demonstration events such as culinary food art, fashion sketch or toys that teach.  Aly particularly enjoyed attending the FCCLA Knowledge Bowl and would like to participate in the future!  After a dinner break, students could once again choose from new topics such as “Just Be U” or a cooking demonstration by Johnson and Wales University.  The evening general session featured keynote speaker, Daniel Seddiqui, who told an attentive audience with his presentation, “Life’s What You Make It,” how he broke out of a deep rut and set out to explore 50 jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks, working as a baseball scout in Massachusetts, a coal miner in West Virginia, a meat-packer in Kansas, a national park ranger in Wyoming, a lumberjack in Oregon and a dietitian in Mississippi, to name just a few!  Seddiqui explained how this venture across America helped him learn to embrace rejection and find direction he would have never imagined.  Saturday was another learning-packed day beginning with packing and loading the car, attending morning sessions, breaking for lunch at the “Flying Fish,” or the River Market and then back for more sessions before a break allowing a brief trip to the mall and dinner in the food court.  Acorn FCCLA was asked to volunteer as part of the host state as door greeters in the closing general session, where we had to welcome and monitor dress code.  Even this activity provided learning experiences as we witnessed adults and students responding positively and negatively to our attempts!  Following the wrap up and closing general session, once again planned and led by the amazing national officer team, students were dismissed from the convention center and directed to the ballroom for a special event, where they were entertained by Last Comic Standing contestant and Comedy Central star Joe Zimmerman!  Next on the docket was Joshua Jordan, a captivating illusionist.  The special event culminated with dance music provided by one of Little Rock’s most sought after DJs.  Our chaperone, Bill Hays, attended most of the sessions along with us except for when he had to get a new key made for the van and then later take a “small” break to watch the Razorbacks bring home the Boot…then he had our cars awaiting so we could leave at 11pm for the return trip to Acorn, exhausted, but strangely exhilarated and certainly educated!

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