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ALC student shines among MAAP Stars

Beth Rickers/Daily Globe District 518 Board of Education Chairman Brad Shaffer congratulates Columba Dominguez on her MAAP Stars accomplishments during a Career Day breakfast Thursday at the Alternative Learning Center in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Columba Dominguez was busy flipping pancakes for the Alternative Learning Center's Career Day breakfast on Thursday morning when she was called to the front of the classroom.

In front of her peers, teachers and District 518 school board members, Dominguez was recognized for her recent outstanding performance at the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs Stars conference.

"MAAP Stars is a leadership concept like BPA (Business Professionals Association) and FCCLA," explained ALC teacher Jerusha Lowe, referring to organizations in the mainstream high school. "When Columba came here, she joined that class, and when she went to the regional competition, she got gold in everything -- they don't rank in numerical order, but use gold, silver and bronze -- and I got numerous comments about what a neat young lady she was."

At the subsequent state competition in the Twin Cities, Dominguez' star also shined brightly, despite not having a team for support.

"Her sister was supposed to be her teammate, but she couldn't get off of work," Lowe explained, adding that another team member also couldn't make the competition.

So Dominguez was a solo act, competing with other alternative schools' multiple-member teams.

"Because she didn't have a team, she was disqualified, but they ranked her before she was disqualified," said Lowe, who accompanied Dominguez to the conference. "She was competing against teams of four, and she had higher scores than some of them, all by herself."

In the seven categories in which she competed, Dominguez received two "high" silver rankings and the rest gold. On individual basis, she was placed third in the state in the job manual category.

"That's third out of 437 students," boasted Lowe. "On public speaking and her demonstration speech, she was given 100 percent by three different judges. That just doesn't happen."

For her outstanding efforts representing District 518's Area Learning Center, Dominguez received a plaque and medallion. She will also be recognized at an upcoming meeting of the District 518 Board of Education.

Dominguez, the daughter of Fernando Jr. and Blanca Dominguez of Worthington, is currently a junior at the ALC. Part of her MAAP presentation was a speech about her own education journey.

"It was about what I've gone through, how I ended up at the ALC. It was because of my attendance," she explained about the difficulty that landed her at the alternative school.

During her tenure at the ALC, Dominguez has come to realize the importance of attending school and will likely go back to Worthington High School next year. After graduation, she wants to attend college with the ultimate goal of becoming a teacher.

"I want to teach high school," she said. "I just don't know what yet."

The MAAP Stars program has definitely played a role in Dominguez's growth as a student and her increased confidence in her abilities.

"It's kind of like people skills," she explained about what she's learned through the Stars program. "I was always really nervous talking in front of people, and it got me out of my shell."

For her demonstration speech, Dominguez showed how to make a boutonnière -- a skill she also learned from one of her ALC teachers. Other areas of the competition included public speaking, parenting skills, employment interview, human resources, career portfolio and job manual.

Although she'll be at WHS next year, Dominguez plans to take at least one night class at the ALC so she will again be eligible for the MAAP competition. Next time around, though, she hopes to have the support of a team and is encouraging other students to get involved in the program.

"It was actually a lot of fun, even if I didn't have anyone else there to help me out," Dominguez said.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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