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East County Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2018 10 months ago

Future leaders in Lakewood Ranch

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Braden River Middle students earn a gold medal for being community leaders.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

As part of their Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) project, Elayna Andrews and Taylore Keesler had their fellow students at Braden River Middle School write 35 Valentine's Day cards for the seniors at Windsor Reflections.

The two eighth-grade students delivered the cards Feb. 14 and were moved by the reaction they received. They said it changed the way they thought about seniors.

“I think it made me realize that elderly people need to be checked on more," Keesler said. "You know, they’re people, too. Elayna and I sang songs to them and I think they liked that, too. And I think it made the seniors realize that our generation is nice and we care about them.”

The seniors weren't the only ones impressed with the project, which had a goal of improving the relationship between the students at Braden River Middle and the elderly at Windsor Reflections.

Andrews and Keesler presented their project at the National STAR Event's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) competition held June 28 through July 2 in Atlanta. They earned a gold medal and a score of 99 out of 100 possible points in the interpersonal communications category.

Twenty-six students from the School District of Manatee County attended the event (14 from Lakewood Ranch High, 10 from Braden River Middle and two from Manatee High). Lakewood Ranch High's Morgan Kirchman, who will be a junior next semester, earned a earned a silver medal for her presentation on how her own personal leadership skills have grown in the course of a year.

At the event, Kirchman was elected president-elect of the Florida FCCLA. She will serve under the president for a year and then take over in her senior year.

“FCCLA has helped me so much, especially in the past year,” Kirchman said. “Even trying to get elected for president-elect, I was using the leadership skills that I had been working on to gain confidence in myself so I could inspire other people as a leader.”

She said those skills eventually could help her achieve her goal of becoming a teacher.

Andrews and Keesler said their advisor, Jill Bergeron, told them future FCCLA members at Braden River Middle will be taking cards to the seniors at Windsor Reflections next year as well.

“It makes me feel like we made a real difference,” Andrews said. “I think we improved a relationship between two groups of people in our community. And it felt good to win the gold medal.”

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