Worthington High School plays host to regional FCCLA eventDay is focused on leadership, skills development in small groups
WORTHINGTON — Worthington High School (WHS) played host Wednesday to more than 180 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) students from Region 3.
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Worthington High School (WHS) played host Wednesday to more than 180 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) students from Region 3. It was the first time in more than a decade that WHS has been the site for the organization’s regional fall meeting.
“Be the leaders who make a difference,” urged WHS assistant principal David Rezny in his official welcome to the group. Participating junior and senior high students came from Edgerton, Fulda, Luverne, Minneota, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and Worthington for the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. event.
A quartet of WHS’s FCCLA students — Cheniqua Johnson, Maggie Sanchez, Ivan Parga and Randy Junker — sang the National Anthem at the assembly’s opening session.
After the Region 3 officers — president Courtney Mensen of Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, secretary Maggie Malathip of WHS and treasurer Courtney Heppler of Fulda — reviewed the eight FCCLA purposes, they outlined the day’s schedule, which included a series of Round Table workshops, STAR event demonstrations and leadership training.
“I like the people in FCCLA,” said Junker, a WHS junior who has participated in FCCLA since his freshman year. “It’s a good way to get to work in the community, and I’m doing a project on reckless driving.”
Added WHS senior Johnson, “FCCLA creates opportunities to work with other high school students from across the state, and even nationally and internationally.”
Bonnie Bents, the WHS FCCLA chapter adviser, credits her student group with helping organize the day. The 2012-13 WHS FCCLA chapter officers are Hannah Naab, president; Jennifer Mayorga, vice president; Ana Lozano, treasurer; Malathip, secretary; Johnson, officer-at-large; and Anny Sompamitwong, publications.
Fay Prairie, a National Certified Counselor from Balaton, was the keynote speaker in the event’s morning hours. She addressed the topic of cyber-bullying, while the attending students listened raptly.
“The definition of bullying is actions that are intentional, repeated and create an imbalance of power,” Prairie described.
Nearly all the students raised their hands when Prairie asked if they were on Facebook, which she said explained why cyber-bullying was the topic of the day.
“Computers amplify things, and cyber-bullying is bullying on steroids,” Prairie said. “It’s easy for people to hide behind online persona on computers. Think about how you have to sign your name to a letter to the editor in a newspaper, but you don’t have to sign all of your computer comments.”
But, Prairie warned, all computers have traceable numbers, so in the event a cyber-bullying incident results in criminal charges, police can still discover the source of “anonymous” insults.
“I disagree with the old saying, ‘Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never harm you,’” Prairie asserted. “Words are powerful and can be painful, and mean words, like pollution, spread everywhere and have a negative effect on everyone.”
Prairie offered national examples of cyber-bullying that, sadly, resulted in the suicides of several victims — the Irish immigrant Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts, Tyler Clementi in New Jersey, Megan Meier in Missouri, to name a few — to stress the serious negative outcomes that can result from victims’ reactions to cyber-bullying.
“In the Phoebe Prince case, nine kids and their families had charges brought against them for criminal harassment, violation of civil rights and stalking, plus there were some civil lawsuits against parents because they provided the computers for their kids,” Prairie said.
Prairie left the FCCLA students with these words of advice to avoid cyber-bullying, or for recourse in case of a problem:
* Don’t share passwords
* Block bad messages
* Save evidence
* Don’t reply
* Tell a responsible adult
* Contact police
* Contact your school
* File a complaint
At the close of the day, Bents pronounced the Region 3 meeting, whose site rotates annually among the participating schools, a success.
“It put some energy into our kids’ thought process as they continue planning events to make FCCLA even more exciting throughout this year,” said Bents. “Our 30 chapter members were very helpful in making the day go smoothly for our dozens of guests.”