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Experiences from high school live on





It's been only a week since Audrey Crawford moved away from home and into a dorm room at McMindes Hall at Fort Hays State University.

But the 2013 graduate of Victoria High School already can tell former schoolmates how being involved in their local FCCLA chapter will help her in college.

This past summer, Crawford made VHS history -- twice. Not only was she the first to qualify four consecutive years for the national competition of Family, Career and Community Leaders, but she also won gold for a fourth straight time at the National Leadership Conference in her STAR events -- Students Taking Action with Recognition.

"Absolutely," she said of the participation in FCCLA. "I became a much better public speaker; I remember as a freshman how nervous I was talking in front of people. Then as a senior, it didn't even faze me."

More importantly, Crawford said, she "learned how to be patient and that things don't always go the way you want them to; you learn how to adjust."

Crawford is one of many VHS graduates who have learned skills in FCCLA they take with them after graduation.

Under the direction of FCCLA instructor Connie Braun, Victoria students have qualified for nationals 11 of the past 16 years.

They start to work on projects almost from the first day of school, but it's not only class time where learning takes place.

If they don't happen to be in one of Braun's classes, students do the work on their own time.

"We came in after school a lot to get everything done," said Victoria senior Brooke Schmidt, Crawford's partner on their gold-winning national chapter showcase manual project last year.

"It's definitely project-based learning," Braun said.

Victoria students will get a chance to learn what other chapters are doing when they take part in the "Take Aim" two-day district conference at Camp Webster in Salina on Sunday and Monday.

"The fall conference is sort of a kickoff to the year," Braun said.

Seniors Kristin Huser and Rylee Broyles are members of the Kansas State Career Connections Peer Education Team that travels the state presenting workshops throughout the year. They also have been partners all four years with FCCLA projects.

"It is time consuming," Broyles said. "But it's a lot of fun."

Victoria juniors Haley Robben (president) and Maegan Karlin (vice president) are district officers and will be attending the district camp in Salina, as well as senior Audra Nowak and sophomore Jayden Newbold.

"I always like to choose a couple of students who have never been to camp to go along," Braun said.

Crawford attended the camp while in high school and said it "definitely was helpful, a good learning experience," as were all her experiences with FCCLA.

Being involved in the organization "has taken me from the East coast to the West Coast," she said of her national trips to Chicago; Anaheim, Calif., Orlando and Nashville, Tenn. "You get to go places and do things you wouldn't probably go otherwise."