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The Nooksack Valley High School FCCLA team is, from left: Dilyodh Brar, Aaron Garcia, Manny Brar, teacher Joelle Day, Caitlyn Aanestad, Tanaya Pike and Mikaela Saenz. (Courtesy photo)

Community service group earned first place at state conference, seeks donations

EVERSON — Honored for its work in offering support to local families in need, the Nooksack Valley High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America team was recognized as state champions in its division at the March FCCLA state conference in Kennewick.

Graded against a rigorous rubric and competing against teams from 10 other regions across Washington, Nooksack’s project received a score of 99 out of 100 to earn a spot in the 2018 National Leadership Conference, which runs from June 28 to July 2 in Atlanta.

Now the Nooksack FCCLA team is looking to raise about $13,000 to cover travel costs and national conference registration.

Joelle Day, the school’s Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, said the group is hosting a silent auction and banquet at Nooksack Valley High School on May 19, which will serve as the main source of fundraising for the nationals trip.

“(The banquet) is open to all members of the community, not just those in the valley,” Day said, adding that Nooksack is the only school in Whatcom County participating in FCCLA.

Day said FCCLA is, in essence, a service group that focuses on empowering families in the community. Whether offering intervention or prevention services, Nooksack’s group typically serves the Nooksack community but has also done work in Lynden and Bellingham.

Led by senior Manny Brar and sophomore Aaron Garcia with support from from senior Caitlyn Aanestad, freshman Dilyodh Brar, senior Tanaya Pike and senior Mikaela Saenz, Nooksack’s first-place project involved working with the Nooksack Valley roots division of Rebound Families of Whatcom County to provide a meal service for families dealing with the effects of trauma.

The team provided meals for about 10 families and a total of 50 people, including volunteers, at a Rebound meeting.

Day said Benny Halbert of the Nooksack Valley Christ Community Church, which supports families for the Nooksack Roots division of Rebound, was vital in the success of the meal service as well.

Day said the project took a few months to implement before the team first presented at the regional-level conference in January, which sent the team to state in March. At state, four teams in Nooksack’s division received a gold score of 90 to 100, but Nooksack was selected as the lone group to move on to nationals.

At nationals, each state will be represented and many other kids from Washington state will be in attendance competing in other divisions.

Nooksack FCCLA is seeking donations for May’s silent auction and sponsorship in the effort to raise funds. Day said the $13,000 covers airfare and travel for six kids and herself, and any excess funds raised will be put toward future community projects.

For more information on the team and how to donate, contact Joelle Day at Joelle.Day@nv.k12.wa.us.

Eric Trent covers sports for the Lynden Tribune.