Reaching for the stars: Six of Worthington ALC’s MAAP STARS head to state competition

WORTHINGTON -- It's been weeks in the making, but when six students from Worthington's Area Learning Center (ALC) competed at the regional MAAP STARS contest, they went home with gold and silver awards and tickets to the state competition April 1...

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MAAP STARS, left to right, Dakota Lopez, Candice Baustian, Win Htoo, Thay Ta, Danny Lopez, Jamari Quigley, Isabela Cherry, Jedediah Jewett, Dariela Juarez, Priscila Valdez, Michelle Ramirez, Ha Moo and Anahi Rodriguez collect 139 items for the local food shelf at Westminster Presbyterian Church exceeding their goal by 39 items for a service project. Submitted Photo

WORTHINGTON - It’s been weeks in the making, but when six students from Worthington’s Area Learning Center (ALC) competed at the regional MAAP STARS contest, they went home with gold and silver awards and tickets to the state competition April 14-15 in Bloomington. This is the second year the school has competed in the state competition, doubling the number of students that went to state last year.

Michelle Ramirez, Jamari Quigley, Dakota Lopez, Anahi Rodriguez, Daniel Lopez and Daniela Juarez began preparing for their events nine weeks before the contest. Teacher and advisor Anne Raetz said the students wrote and practiced speeches, problem-solved various situations, planned and implemented a community service project and participated in several mock interviews. Raetz said the students competed in both individual and team events, including: public speaking, personal interview, management decision making, team management decision making, parenting decision making, community service project presentation and “LifeSmarts.”
For the community service project, the students in the ALC’s MAAP STARS class tackled the global problem of hunger. In a written presentation, group members explained why and how they chose to combat the issue.
“Our class ended up deciding on the topic of hunger,” the report states. “... Out of all the topics, we decided that hunger was the biggest worldwide concern. Especially because we notice that some children in our community do not have meals at home and get most of their food from school lunches or breakfasts. We are fortunate to not have a personal connection to severe hunger, but we do care about others in our community and nationwide. Therefore, we chose hunger as our issue. We see it as a huge problem and want to help make a change in our community and in the world.”

Raetz said the students researched a number of charitable organizations before choosing to donate to the World Food Program (WFP). The MAAP STARS created a game plan to raise money for the cause while getting the entire ALC involved.
“We set a goal of contributing at least $300 to the World Food Program,” the students wrote. “WFP is a global charity that on average helps out more than 80 million people with food assistance in over 75 countries each year. This organization has 11,500 people who work or volunteer for them. Not only does this charity help out with food assistance, they bring comfort when a country is hit with terrible natural damage with their emergency relief program.”
Raetz said the students sold cans of orange Crush soda during lunch throughout Valentine’s Day week to supplement the two tip nights the students participated in at Pizza Ranch. The students decorated the soda cans and delivered them to the “crush” of the purchaser.
Likewise, the students set up jars to receive donations to throw a pie in the face of the teacher with the most money raised. Nine teachers stepped up to the challenge, and Raetz, Tierney Berg and Ray Lowry all received a pie in the face.
“The teachers didn’t know who was being pied,” Raetz shared. “They (the students) kept it a secret so they just stood in front of all of the teachers and just slammed us with pies.”
Raetz said the multiple fundraisers set up by the class netted a total of $443.99 for WFP and the food drive at the ALC exceeded their 100 item goal for the local food shelf by 39 cans.
“I was really proud of them for what they did,” Raetz said. “I think they surprised themselves on how well their project went.”
Raetz said the students are ready to move on to state. The regional contest was a new experience for each student. State will prove to be an even bigger challenge.
“I think they all had a really good time at regionals,” Raetz said. “This was the first time for all of them going to something like this. It’s a different form of competition because it’s not just a race to get something done or a sporting event. It’s really about showing your skills, showing your professionalism and showing off what kind of person you are. I think for some of them that’s something they’d never done before.”
“I’m really looking forward to state,” Raetz added. “State is always a really fun time. They (the students) compete against every alternative school in the state of Minnesota. ... (At) regionals, there (are) only four other schools there, so it is a much smaller setting. State will be more competitive, more intense… but I think it is all about the experience. It’s not necessarily about winning. … It’s about your experience and growing from it.”

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