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Five Morris Area FCCLA students advance to state tournament

The five members of Morris' chapter of Family, Career, Community Leaders of America who competed at the regional compeition last weekend at Ortonville will all advance to the state competition in April. From left to right, Jolene McNeill, Katie Jergenson, Aaron Jones, Tracy Meichsner and Bobbi Jo Kurtz. Visit our website for video of Jergenson and Jones discussing their presentations.3 / 3

MORRIS, Minn. - Five students from Morris Area High School's chapter of Family, Career, Community Leaders of America competed in their first regional competition last Friday in Ortonville, and all five will be advancing to the state competition in April.

FCCLA, founded in 1945, supports students and their Family and Consumer Science (FACS) education.

The students presented four projects in STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) Events, under the broad category of "Illustrated Talks." In this event, individuals or teams prepare a presentation about issues that concern family and consumer life sciences.

Junior Katie Jergenson focused on the topic of healthy relationships, freshmen Tracy Meichsner and Bobbi Jo Kurtz presented on Celiac disease and gluten-free living, eighth-grader Aaron Jones presented on healthy family meals and eighth-grader Jolene McNeill gave a presentation about depression.

Although the regional in Ortonville was a competition, the Morris Area students said they were struck by how friendly the other students were, especially to a new team.

The team said they thought they were successful because they chose "more mature" topics and had well-organized presentations.

"We didn't just focus on one thing, we broadened it out so the presentation helped more people," said Jergenson.

"A lot of ours were about life stories and things we'd been through or seen," concurred Kurtz. "I think it helped that my grandma and my mom have [Celiac disease] ... When I started my the speech with my life story, the judges opened up."

"It seems like the students picked topics that were important and that had a connection to their life," said team advisor Holly Bjorkland. "The judges commented that they could tell the projects had an important connection to [the students]."

Before the state competition, the students will work on incorporating the judges' feedback into improving their presentations and getting more comfortable speaking confidently about their topic, said Jergenson.

But before then, the group will be partnering with the Morris Area Business Professionals of America to celebrate National BPA and FCCLA Week, Feb. 8 through 12.