It has been about a month since I traveled to California trip with my daughter Elise and the Arab Family Career and Community Leaders of America.

Elise wrote the story in her own words:

“Wow, unbelievable.” Those were the first words that I used in during my presentation at the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California. Those words describe the trip as well. My name is Elise Mayberry and I am the Vice President of Media for Arab High FCCLA.

Over 8,600 people competed at the event in California with ten students from our chapter. With our participants, we brought home seven silver and one gold medal. This event had group competitions along with individual. Besides our competitors, we had a state officer and one running for national office.

Anna Frances Taffar worked extremely hard on becoming a national officer. She is the first from Arab High School to make it to a qualifying round in nationals. Unfortunately, she was not able to make it past the first round of picks.

Nathan Wilson proudly served Alabama as the Vice President of Star Events. A lot of his time was spent in meetings and organizing events for Alabama. 

In the Star Event competitions, our very own Heather Grace, an upcoming junior, received a gold medal in Life Event Planning using her mother’s wedding as her inspiration. Heather demonstrated the cost and items used for the dream wedding of her mother.

Heather had never competed in nationals before and she was able to bring home the gold.

In the event, a group of two competed in interior design. Ashley Gattis and Mackenzie Gibbs won a silver medal for their design of a hotel.

Sierra Fredrick, Hope Hanners and Beth Lundgren competed in promote and publicize FCCLA. They used t-shirts, newspaper and social media to get their word out.

“Our star event consists of simply growing our organization and growing the knowledge of it,” Sierra said. “We worked hard on gaining male members, gaining knowledge of FCCLA in our community and increasing our involvement in the community.”

This group had a successful year and will continue to work on their three goals and many others. She stated that the most important part they learned is that FCCLA is a family and they are proud to be a part of the organization.

Maria Johansson competed in fashion and participated in the fashion show. This is the first time that anyone from Arab has been a part of the fashion show. Maria showcased her “Glam Positive” look with a blue sweater for anxiety awareness. She rocked the runway with others who competed in fashion as well.  This was also her first time to compete at a national.

Last but not least, is me. I competed in Recycle and Redesign. My project was turning jeans into skirts, but not just any skirts: Sew Unique Skirts. This was my first time to compete at the national competition and I did my family proud by bringing home silver.

Although I was disappointed, I will strive to do better next year by bringing home gold at the competition in Washington D.C. I guess though, first, I do not need to compete at the state level.

Speaking of Washington D.C., FCCLA will be traveling to D.C. for Capital Leadership on September 30 to October 2 as well the National Convention in July.

Back to California. Besides competing, Arab High FCCLA had a blast in California.

On Friday, June 28, we left the high school at 3 a.m. and heading straight to the Nashville Airport. Jeff Gibbs drove a school bus for us to be able to make it to the airport without parents having to park their vehicles over an extended stay in the airport parking. We would like to thank him for his support as well. Once we arrived at the airport, we hopped on the plane and headed straight to LAX.

Once in LAX, we grabbed our luggage and hopped on a tour bus and had our own special tour of LA. Our first stop was a mall in Hollywood. From this mall, we saw the Hollywood sign from afar. Our tour guide gave us the inside scope on the mall and explained that it was the location of the Academy Awards.

After we toured the mall, we boarded the bus again and went to Beverly Hills. This has always been a childhood dream of mine because of several movies and shows that I watched as a kid. The group got a picture at the Beverly Hills sign and Rodeo Drive.

From there we traveled to Santa Monica Pier and my mother and I stuck our feet in the Pacific Ocean. We only had 30 minutes, so we had to run down the pier and the beach. From Santa Monica, we traveled to Venice. We were limited on this adventure as well, so most of the group ran to the beach and took it all in. After what felt like a million hours, we arrived at our hotel, grabbed a bite to eat and went straight to sleep.

Once we woke up the next morning, we headed off to Disneyland where we spent 16 hours. Let me just say my feet didn’t really appreciate me. We rode almost every ride at the park. Sierra and I loved Big Thunder Mountain.

One little side adventure was when my mom “lost her card” (I’ll get to that later). She panicked over losing her debit card and spent a whole ride working on placing a hold on her card. She was the bag holder, so she was not too upset that we left her with my dad.

We ate at two restaurants and both were reasonably priced. We spent less there than we did at a local restaurant.

On June 30, we watched the opening session where we were introduced to our national candidates and of course we cheered on our own Anna Frances! While we were leaving, I heard someone say something that stuck with me the whole trip, “This week in Anaheim there is a wave of red throughout the streets.” FCCLA’s colors are red and white. We all had red blazers.  

The day I competed was July 1. It was an early morning for me and my parents. I had to wake up at 6 a.m. For my project I made skirts from blue jeans and scrap material. I had them displayed in a little crate made of wood and on the plane ride, my crate broke which made carrying it hard.

I competed at 9 a.m., so I got there at 8 a.m. It went well and the judges thought my design was creative. Although I was nervous, I was excited about the way the judges asked questions and seemed friendly.

On July 2, we went to Huntington Beach and spent all day there. This was definitely one of my favorite days. Everyone who went to the beach burned, but it was not for the lack of sunscreen. My mom sprayed each of her charges every hour on the hour. We believe that it must have been the wind that caused the burn. Oh, back to my mom losing her debit card.

She later found it in her camera bag while we were at the beach. Alas, it was too late to activate the card, because she called the day before to cancel it.

On July 3, we watched as Maria took the runway in style. This was the first time Arab had competed in the fashion show. After the show, we all went to Knott’s Berry Farm. We only had approximately four hours, so most of us only rode like four rides. On one of the rides I rode, I hit my head really hard which made me not want to do any more thrill rides.

On our last full day in California, which happened to be Independence Day, we had closing session and awards along with a fireworks show at Downtown Disney! The morning of the awards, Sierra, Beth, my parents and I went to Downtown Disney to do a little shopping. While we were there, we experienced an earthquake. Let me just say that we couldn’t feel it because Disney is built on magic. Okay, so that is not true. Several others from our group did feel the earthquake, but they were in their rooms.

The awards and closing session were amazing. I was a little disappointed that I only placed silver, but that does give me something to strive for since I have another three years to compete. I am so proud of all of the members of FCCLA and their hard work. 

On our last day, which technically was 2 a.m., we didn’t sleep too much and were glad to be headed home to see our families. I was glad to come home to see my dogs.

Now that we are home, we are so excited to take the 2019-2020 school year by storm and rock FCCLA!

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