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LP-A students to compete in FCCLA nationals

A group of teenagers spending a week in Orlando, Fla., during the summer doesn't look like work at first glance.

Don't tell that to 13 Lake Park-Audubon High School students. That's the number who advanced to the Family, Career and Community Leaders of American National Leadership Meeting -- to be held July 13-17 -- after winning their events at the state convention in April.

"I'm still kind of shocked, even a couple of weeks after," said senior Max Medenwald.

Junior Brett Lage said that going to the national meeting -- for the second year running -- is one memory he will treasure about his high school days.

"It will be the highlight of my high school career," Lage said.

Advisor Cheryl Hogie said that FCCLA is just like any other extracurricular activity, just with a different focus than others.

"They can capitalize on the academics of this particular program," Hogie said.

Medenwald teamed with Britny Hamblin for the Chapter Service Project Manual event. After organizing a service project -- raising funds for the American Cancer Society -- Hamblin and Medenwald developed a manual to document their work and then gave an oral presentation.

"We (Hamblin and himself) got together to come up with a couple of different things to raise money," Medenwald said.

Hard work was involved, but that didn't mean that creativity or fun were out of the question. Hambin and Medenwald set up a "teacher torture" where the principal and a couple of the teachers let themselves be humiliated in some fashion if a threshold was reached.

High school principal Kevin Ricke let students shave his hair into a Mohawk -- and kept it like that for a week -- after students raised $500.

Medenwald said another teacher waxed his legs, and a couple of others dyed their hair pink. All totaled, Medenwald said that he and Hamblin raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society.

He added that the chance to go to Florida for a week wasn't why he participated in FCCLA. "It wasn't that big of a deal to go nationally," Medenwald said. "We just wanted to accomplish our goal to get awareness of cancer out."

Lage will make a return trip to the national meeting, this time for Chapter Service Display, with partners Braeden Hogie and Bryce Lunde. He said that the trip is a great way to meet others who share his values.

"They stand for the same things I do," Lage said.

Plus it's a great time to socialize, especially with the girls -- since Lage said that a two-to-one ratio of girls-to-boys exists. "I'm known as a flirt," Lage added.

He noted that his people skills came in handy with the 3,000 in attendance at the national meeting last year in Anaheim, Calif. "I honestly met about half of them," Lage said.

Of course, Lage had to work to get there and back again. This year he helped plan a pillow donation drive where workers stuffed and tied fleece pillows. Other efforts included two food drives.

With every student who goes on to the national meeting needing to give an oral presentation, Hogie said that builds leadership and public-speaking skills that are needed later in life.

"People who don't teach, and the students the first time too, have no idea on how much time goes into a 10-minute lesson," she said. "They're like, 'this took weeks.'"

Both Lage and Medenwald said that the work they have put in is harder than they expected, and will pay dividends later on in life.

"It shows me how to buckle down," Medenwald said. "It wasn't easy. It was time-consuming. You have to focus on something when you work hard for it."

Lage said that he learned to do more than the bare minimum needed to get the job done. "I was able to get done with what I'm required to do, and go beyond."

Other students who advanced from LP-A included Lorin Ronken and Dylan Svobodny (Chapter Showcase Display) and Kody Hass, Emily Haverkamp and Toni Tollefson (Focus on Children). Kelsey Anderson, Andrea Knudsvig and Maria Velt qualified for the junior high Chapter Service Display event.