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Column: Co-curricular activities plentiful at WHS

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington High School continues to offer students a wide variety of co-curricular opportunities. All activities engage students in team building skills and give them an opportunity to demon-strate their strengths within a particular event.

Co-curricular activities offered at Worthington High School in-clude: Speech, FCCLA, BPA, Art Club, Art Competition, All School Play, Knowledge Bowl, Mock Trial, Science Club, FFA, AOK Club, Book Club, Drama Club, SADD, Debate, National Honor Society, Student Council, Spring Musical, and Trojan Yearbook. Listed below is a brief synopsis of some of the high-lighted activities Worthington High School Co-curricular Clubs are involved in throughout the year.

Business Professionals

of America (BPA)

Business Professionals of Amer-ica is the national career/technical student organization for students preparing for careers in the business world. Business Professionals of America Week is celebrated in conjunction with National Career/Technical Education Week, which is Feb. 8-14. The students of Worthington High School want local businesses and the community to know that Business Professionals of America and career/technical education are preparing them to excel in tomorrow's business careers and to function in the community as responsible citizens. WHS Business Professionals of America students actively participate in our local chapter by attending monthly meetings, running/managing the concession stands and school store, and helping out local organizations by designing and printing buttons, brochures, flyers, etc.

Worthington High School was represented by 17 students that attended the Region 8 Spring BPA Leadership Conference Jan. 30 in Granite Falls. Of the 17 students, six (David Bardan, He Chen, Jeremy Clark, Danny Khounthavong, Shane Pedersen, and Ricky Thonglyvong) students placed and advanced automatically. One other student (Alana Ablog), who was a runner-up, has also advanced to the State Spring BPA Leadership Conference, which will be March 12-14 in Minneapolis. The National BPA Leadership Conference will be May 7-10 in Dallas, Texas.

Knowledge Bowl

High School Knowledge Bowl competitions are interdisciplinary academic contests designed for students in grades 9-12. During the contests, students compete in teams of four or five in a written round of 60 questions, and four oral rounds of 45 questions each. The questions are related to all areas of secondary educational programs. Questions are designed to test students recall, problem solving and critical thinking skills.

In the spring of 2008, there were almost 800 knowledge bowl teams from the 285 Minnesota school dis-tricts, or approximately 4,000 students involved. Worthington High School belongs to Region 8 of the Minnesota Service Cooperatives Knowledge Bowl program. Currently, WHS has one team of students that practice together twice a week before school at 7 a.m. In addition, the team members take home sample questions from previous competitions to review on their own time.

The WHS Knowledge Bowl Team is planning an informal competition against the teachers at the high school before the sub-regional competition on March 16 in Marshall. If the team places in the top 15, students will move on to the region competition March 18 in Marshall. In order to advance to the state competition, WHS Knowledge Bowl needs to place in the top four. The state competition will take place in April in Brainerd.

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America is a non-profit national career and technical student organization for young men and women in Family and Consumer Sciences education. Everyone is part of a family, and FCCLA puts the family as its central focus. There are currently more than 7,000 active chapters across the United States, District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

The mission of FCCLA is to promote personal growth and leadership development through Family and Consumer Sciences education. Through participation and organization of various service projects, meetings and events, members are able to develop life skills such as character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge and career preparation. FCCLA has many leadership opportunities, from being an officer of the organization to being the head of a committee, to planning an activity.

Worthington High FCCLA members get a chance to work out in the community on many different projects. These activities include pumpkin carving at Pioneer Village, helping with the Special Olympics bowling tournament, making Linus blankets for underprivileged children and hosting the Senior Citizen Prom. FCCLA, like the other co-curricular organizations, has competitions at the region and state level as well as leadership camps and a national meeting.

Mock Trial

The Minnesota High School Mock Trial Program is an exciting law-related education program that introduces students to the American legal system and provides a challenging opportunity for personal growth and achievement. The WHS Mock Trial Team is coached by social studies teacher Joe Landwehr -- with assistance from Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore -- and is made up of 13 students. Of these 13 students, three play attorneys, six play witnesses, two are alternates and two serve as the bailiff and the timekeeper for the courtroom. The team plays the roles of prosecution at one meet, then flips and serve as the defendants at the next.

Every year, the Minnesota State Bar Association posts a case on their Web site that participants throughout the state use for Mock Trial Competitions. Students who portray witnesses study their witnesses' affidavit until they literally become the character. Then at court, they are interrogated by attorneys to retrieve information that can be used to either convict or acquit the defendant. Attorneys and witnesses are scored by two judges for their knowledge of the part, questions, and responses to questions. Whoever has the highest score at the end of the competition wins, even though they may not have won the case. As one WHS student remarked, "One of the most important things that Mock Trial has taught me is that preparation is the key to success."

Paul Karelis is principal of Worthington High School.