Students learning leadership

By Clyde Davis: CNJ Columnist

For Savannah and Kayla, one of the key elements is competition. They like the part about Orlando, they like the Sea World plans, but the drawing card is the chance to compete.

No, they aren’t Clovis Municipal Schools athletes, nor band members — at least not in this context.

The competition they are honing in on is FCCLA (formerly Future Homemakers of America), and in a time and a mindset where it is so easy to focus on “bad” kids, these young men and women are involved in an extracurricular activity that focuses in on community service, where the goal is growing leadership.

FCCLA stands for Family and Career Community Leaders of America, according to faculty advisor Amy Garcia of Yucca Middle School. The purpose of the organization, which encompasses seventh grade through high school, is the strengthening of family and community toward the structuring of a better future.

Between now and July, the students will be raising money, via tamale sales, car washes, garage sales and just about anything a group of kids might do that would raise $1,500 apiece, the cost of this year’s convention in Orlando, Fla. Yes, the kids have to provide all their own funding, as do the adults.

I was able to catch up with some of the kids last Sunday morning as they were making tamales. Unfortunately, I was too late to place an order.

Freshman Veronica Medrano is looking forward to learning new things, seeing new places, meeting new people and just having fun. Her classmate Jessica Farkas, who attended last year’s conference in Anaheim, Calif., calls it the “ultimate leadership experience,” citing her 2007 trip as teaching her an incredible amount about how to be a leader.

Sophomore Drael Davidson is excited about the projected trip to Sea World because her career plans include veterinary school and this would be her dream place to work at. Good luck, future Dr. Davidson.

Seventh-grader Savannah Garcia enjoys the idea of competing and showing her stuff at a national competition. Since her mom is the advisor and her dad was there on a Sunday morning, rolling tamales, I doubt she’ll have much trouble getting parental support. Nor will ninth-grader Kayla Johnson, whose mom, Joan, is chaperoning, and who is prepared to compete with her star project, a manual for the Parent Institute the chapter organizes.

Community service is a big component for this chapter, from providing day care at Lincoln-Jackson Family Center, to ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas, to staffing the Portales Relay for Life, which is largely organized by student groups. Two things I could tell about Amy Garcia right off were her love for these kids, and her commitment to helping them become caring, involved members of society.

These are the Clovis students who will be attending: Garcia, Austin Miller, Jackie Cordaro, Davidson, Taylor Quinn, Amanda Sinfuego, Medrano, Farkas and Johnson. As you see them over the next six weeks, stepping up their fundraising efforts, help them out.

It can be one more way of building future leadership.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: