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Ms. Larsen Is and Will Always Be My Hero

March 4th, 2015

Derek Eaton
Utah State Counselor Association
Lynn Jensen Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Derek Eaton pictureDerek Eaton, senior at Ben Lomond High School, tells about the positive impact Tami Larsen, school counselor at Ben Lomond High School, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) has had on his life.

Derek moved from Idaho to Utah to live with his grandmother after living in an abusive situation with his mother and stepfather. “My home life was more than any one person could bear,” said Derek. One day on his way to school Derek was in a car accident. As a result of the accident he received a serious traumatic brain injury that caused him to miss most of his junior year of high school. “My grandmother helped me get the medical and psychological care I needed. When I moved in I was afraid all the time and wouldn’t leave the house. I was really behind in school. While I lived in Idaho my grades weren’t very good. My freshman year I had a 2.28 grade point average. My sophomore year my average dropped to 1.89 and I had only earned a total of 11.49 credits [towards graduation]. I missed almost all of my junior school year due to my car accident and my hard home life. I felt hopeless and didn’t even know where to start.”

Eventually Derek was able to return to school. With the encouragement and support of Ms. Larsen Derek began to thrive in school, while also taking a CTE class in drafting. “During the spring of 2014, I was making medical progress and wanted to return to school. Ms. Larsen, my school counselor, reviewed my case and convinced Ben Lomond High School that even though I was really behind I was smart and worth the risk. Although I was still emotionally and physically broken, she helped me return to school for the 4th quarter of the 2014 [school year]. Daily Ms. Larsen talked to me, supported me, and encouraged me. Ms. Larsen encouraged and helped me start online high school classes. I began and completed four online classes. My grade point average rose to 3.66.”

With the guidance and encouragement of Ms. Larsen Derek enrolled in summer school at Ogden Weber Applied Technology College, where he caught up on his school work so he could graduate with his senor class. He later enrolled in Weber State University where he earned seven hours of concurrent enrollment credit. Ms. Larsen assisted Derek in registering for the ACT (scoring 30), complete college registration, and apply for scholarships. Ms. Larsen is his school counselor, advocate, friend, and most of all his hero.

Tami Larsen - Ben Lomond High SchoolDerek describes how, within one year, his life drastically changed for the better thanks to the guidance and direction of a school counselor who believed in him 100 percent. “One year ago I had no hope, no happiness, no dream, and was afraid all the time. I now understand and believe coming from such adversity doesn’t mean my life is over. I feel safe and know I have a real future. If Ms. Larsen hadn’t been an advocate for me, providing direction, encouragement, and support, I would have been considered a lost cause. She believes in me, works with me, makes me feel like I matter, and that I truly belong. I feel happy for the first time in my life, love school, and know I can do something positive with my life. Thanks to Ms. Larsen, I now believe in myself and I have worked very hard this last year. I have caught up in school and am earning credits towards my college degree. I now have a bright future and will attend college next fall.”

Derek will continue his education at Weber State University, where he will study computer science, after also being awarded the Weber State University Presidential Academic Scholarship.

Derek’s experience has been life changing and he hopes to someday provide help to someone in a similar situation. “People may say, counselors don’t do much, but Ms. Larsen is and will always be my hero. Words can’t express the gratefulness and care I feel towards her. I hope someday I will be able to pay it forward by providing a life changing opportunity to someone like me who is lost and hopeless in life. Ms. Larsen has helped me become a better person. She has taken the time to believe in me, support me, and encourage me. Because of her I know I will do great things in life.”


Save the Date: FIRST Robotics Competition

March 2nd, 2015

American Fork_TE_IMG_3467Plan now to attend the 2015 Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition March 13-14 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah. The FIRST Robotics Competition is called a “Varsity Sport for the Mind®” and has all of the excitement and stakes of a high school championship sports tournament. Forty-three teams from 11 states and Canada will compete for worldwide recognition and a chance to win over $20 million in college scholarships.

Under strict rules, limited resources, and tight time limits, teams of 25 students are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

This year’s FIRST Robotics game is called “Recycle Rush” and is played by two alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by staking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.

Who: 43 teams from 11 states and Canada

What: Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition – Grades 9-12

Where: Maverik Center, West Valley City, Utah

When: Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14

A live stream of the competition can be watched on YouTube HERE.

Meet Zach Eberhard

February 27th, 2015

Zach EberhardZach Eberhard, a senior at Taylorsville High School, has been enthusiastically involved in FBLA since the start of his sophomore year. Zach served as last year’s chapter president at Taylorsville High School. Aside from FBLA he likes to participate in his school’s jazz band, music committee, choir, and math club. Zach feels very humbled to be the Utah FBLA state president. He is happy to be serving Utah FBLA members and is excited to show the rest of the state what FBLA is all about.

Join Zach and become a member of FBLA. Contact your school counselor to get connected with the FBLA advisor in your school.


Why Your Kids Should Participate in FFA

February 26th, 2015

By Buddy Deimler
Agricultural Education specialist at the Utah State Office of Education
Utah FFA advisor

Hurricane_Ag_IMG_4881Thank you to every Ag teacher in Utah who works hard to make a difference with every student, in every class, every day. Through Agricultural Education and FFA you are making a positive difference in the lives of young people. Your hard work and dedication is evident by the hours that you spend and by the success your students enjoy whether that success is at the local level, the state level or the national level. Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty every day as you provide opportunities for your students. You do a great job!

Katie Pinke, a mother of three who lives in North Dakota, is a huge advocate of FFA. She says, “Do you know what FFA is all about? As a mom of an FFA member I do, but as a student and young adult I had no idea. My husband raves about the confidence and lifelong skills he gained through FFA. Our son, Hunter, joined FFA as an eighth grader and has been an active member for the past four years.” Below is a summary of Katie’s list of the “7 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Participate in FFA.”

  1. FFA is exhilarating.
  2. FFA is part of the agricultural education program offered to junior high and high school students. The FFA advisor and agricultural education instructor teaches and array of classes based on the interests and needs of the students.
  3. FFA is inclusive.
  4. FFA is competition with the highest level of integrity, compassion and encouragement of one another.
  5. FFA Career Development Events (CDEs) afford kids hands-on opportunities to test the skills they learn in a classroom, in industry-focused real-world events.
  6. FFA students learn by doing. FFA provides hands-on learning that teaches through entrepreneurship, internship or job placement, research or experimentation, and exploring new career opportunities.
  7. FFA members are tomorrow’s leaders. FFA teaches essential leadership skills that last a lifetime.

More than 11,000 FFA advisors and agriculture teachers deliver an integrated model of agricultural education, providing students with innovative and leading-edge education and enabling them to grow into competent leaders.

FFA student members participate in hands-on work experiences that assist them in developing life skills and discovering their career path to realize success. Nationwide, FFA student members earn more than $4 billion annually through their hands-on work experience.

Nationally FFA has 610,240 members in 7,665 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In Utah there are 6,012 FFA members in 80 chapters.

If you are not a member of FFA, and would like to become a member, talk to your school counselor to get connected with the FFA advisor in your school.

FFA Utah jackets 2011

My CTE Story Began 45 Years Ago

February 26th, 2015

LaRee Stephenson photoBy LaRee Stephenson, CTE teacher, Millard High School

My story began 45 years ago when I graduated from high school and headed to what was then SUSC now Southern Utah University (SUU) on an academic scholarship. I was interested in the one-year technical secretary program, but thanks to a great college professor, I continued in Business Education and became a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher. This college professor saw the potential I had and encouraged me to continue my education and she even hired me on the work study program to be her secretary. You must realize that this was the era of no personal computers, all my work was done on the IBM electric typewriter and correction tape was my best friend. Students don’t know how good they have it. The professor’s name was Pauline Nelson and I will always be grateful for her influence in my life.

Thanks to Professor Nelson, I graduated from college and was able to return to my own high school and teach for 29 years. When I started teaching there were no classroom computers. I still remember the day when I [received] my first set of classroom computers. You had to load a floppy disk, with the operating system, each time you started it and then [insert] another floppy disk to save any work. I have seen many changes in my years of teaching. Technology is wonderful and it is a challenge for me to try and keep up-to-date with all of the changes. It is my hope that I have encouraged my students, as that professor did many years ago, to go farther than they think they can and apply the knowledge and skills they have learned through CTE courses. They will be skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

Strengthening Families One Meal at a Time!

February 25th, 2015

By Alesha Hurst, Utah FCCLA VP of Public Relations

FCCLA@TheTableFood. Everyone needs it. But when was the last time you sat down for a meal at the dinner table as a family? Chances are it wasn’t recently. FCCLA is aware of this growing problem, and we’re taking measures to stop it from becoming worse.

FCCLA@TheTable is a new program that national FCCLA council members have started in an attempt to strengthen family relationships. FCCLA members pledge that they will share meals with their families, and as a result, they will be able to bond with their family members over dinner. The only requirement is that they have to take a picture of the meal as proof of completion and post it on Instagram with #FCCLA@TheTable.

The reasoning behind this initiative is simple: strong families make strong leaders. Studies have shown that regular family meals promote healthy eating habits and create a bond between parents and their children. Also, eating dinner together improves academic performance in school. Did you know, 52 percent of children earn mostly A’s and B’s when their families eat dinner together at least twice a week? The benefits greatly outweigh the costs, and FCCLA believes that FCCLA@TheTable will help these statistics apply to more of its members.

This project has received a lot of support from members, and many have already taken the pledge! The national goal is for 70,000 members to pledge meals with their families, and Utah FCCLA hopes to contribute 3,500 of them!

We understand that it is hard for families to find time in their busy schedules to meet together for dinner, but we encourage everyone to make an effort. To avoid awkward silent meals, we have come up with a list of conversation starters.

> If you could take a trip or vacation to any destination where would you go?
> How would you describe a perfect day?
> If you could go back to any moment in your life and re-live or re-do it, what moment would it be?
> If someone made a movie of your life, who would play the starring role and why?
> What made you feel mad, sad, and glad today?
> What do you want to be when you grow up?
> What is the funniest/weirdest dream you have ever had?
> If you could trade places with your parents for a day, what would you do differently?
> If you could turn invisible, where would you go and what would you do?
> If you could change anything in the world, what would you change and how?
> If you could wake up tomorrow with a superpower, what superpower would you want to have?
> If you could master a new skill tonight, what would it be?
What was the best gift you’ve ever received? The best one you’ve ever given?
> If salary wasn’t important and talent wasn’t necessary, what would be your dream job and why?
> If you could teleport anywhere in the universe right now, where would you go?

 Help Utah FCCLA bring families closer together by taking the FCCLA@TheTable Pledge!

My CTE Internship Experience

February 25th, 2015

NiKelle Brown, a student at Richfield High School, participated in a CTE Internship at Barnett Orthodontics as part of the Work-Based Learning Program at her high school. Below NiKelle tells about her internship experience.

“I interned at Barnett Orthodontics as an assistant in training. I basically shadowed the office assistants and learned from them. I learned so much from this opportunity!

NiKelle Brown“I started out by scanning models and impressions, sterilizing instruments, and stocking patient units along with many other little jobs that keep things running smoothly. Eventually I was given the unique opportunity to actually work on patients. I was trained when to ask them to come on back and have a seat, then I simply untied their bands, took out their wires and told them to brush and floss, then to come back for the doctor to have a look at their progress. Working with patients also means developing X-rays, as well as taking initial photos and entering them into a specific record on the computer.

“I cannot begin to explain how educational and fun the entire internship was for me! I developed better people skills, as well as an understanding of what not only goes into keeping a busy business running, but also what a day in a career I am interested in pursuing is actually like. Participating in an internship is nothing like looking the career up online or even asking an experienced worker for a job description. Being an intern means actually getting your hands into the work and trying it out for yourself. These are real life situations with real life people and results! How much better can it get?”


Utah CTSO Leadership and Skills Conferences

February 24th, 2015

DECA photo 2Throughout March, Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) members across the state will gather together to compete in individual leadership and skill competitions. Students have been preparing all year for the opportunity to compete in the state competition with the aspiration to advance to the national competition this summer.

March 2-4: FBLA State Leadership Conference
Davis Conference Center – Layton, UT
FBLA provides students with opportunities for leadership, community involvement, business partnerships, and competition with other students in events ranging from Public Speaking to Job Interview to Parliamentary Procedures.
Utah FBLA has 2,970 members in 129 chapters.

March 10-11: FCCLA State Leadership Conference
Davis Conference Center – Layton, UT
FCCLA provides students with opportunities to attain knowledge, skills, and leadership characteristics necessary to succeed in life, as well as promoting personal growth and leadership development.
Utah FCCLA has 3,077 members in 112 chapters.

March 12-14: FFA State Convention
Richfield, UT
FFA is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of young people by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.
Utah FFA has 6,012 members in 80 chapters.

March 17-18: TSA State Conference
Davis Applied Technology College – Layton, UT
TSA is the only student organization dedicated exclusively to students enrolled in technology education classes in grades K-12. Students participate in chapter fund-raising activities and community service projects. Leadership training is offered to student officers at the local, state, or national levels.
Utah TSA has 2,906 members in 47 chapters.

March 19-20: HOSA State Leadership Conference
Davis Conference Center – Kaysville, UT
HOSA provides students with opportunities to attain the knowledge, skills and leadership characteristics necessary to succeed in a health care profession, through leadership training, career training, and service projects.
Utah HOSA has 4,145 members in 89 chapters.

March 26-27: SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference
Salt Lake Community College – Salt Lake City, UT
SkillsUSA provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship, and character development. The organization builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes, and communication skills. It emphasizes total quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, lifelong education, and pride in the dignity of work.
Utah SkillsUSA has 2,045 members in 76 chapters.

We want to hear about your conference, your skill competition and what your CTSO chapter has planned for the rest of the school year. Send your stories to utahcte@schools.utah.gov.

Over 23,000 Utah secondary Career and Technical Education students are members of one of seven CTSOs. CTSO members are doing great things and are having a positive impact in schools and communities throughout the state.

If you are not a member of a CTSO, and would like to become a member, talk to your school counselor to get connected with the CTSO advisor in your school.

Student Members Celebrate FFA

February 21st, 2015

Salem Hills FFA Chapter.jpgUtah FFA student members will celebrate National FFA Week, February 21-28, 2015. This year’s theme is Go All Out! The theme embraces more than 80 years of FFA traditions, while looking forward to the organization’s future. More than half a million members will participate in National FFA Week activities at local, state, and national levels. These members have a passion for agriculture.

In 1947, at a National FFA Board of Directors meeting, the week of George Washington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week. Today, FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses February 22, Washington’s birthday. FFA Week gives FFA members an opportunity to educate the public about agriculture. During the week, chapters will conduct a variety of activities to help others in their school and community learn about FFA and agricultural education.

Today’s FFA members are the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Through agricultural and hands-on learning, they are preparing for more than 300 career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industry.

The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 610,240 student members as part of 7,665 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In Utah, there are 6,012 members in 80 chapters.

The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs.

Bringing Awareness to FCCLA

February 18th, 2015

Last week, FCCLA chapters across Utah celebrated National FCCLA Week. Read what several chapters did to celebrate.

Orem High School 2Orem High School FCCLA Chapter
“We’ve had a lot of fun this week celebrating and recognizing FCCLA Week at our school. We have been gathering students around one of the TV’s in the commons area to play Kahoot during lunch. We made one for every day and have awarded prizes to those who participate. Each day it teaches a little [something] about one of our FACS classes—interior design, foods, child development, FCCLA, and clothing. It’s so fun and everyone that plays loves it, said Sandy Kezerian, FCCLA Adviser, Orem High School.”

Maple Mountain High SchoolMaple Mountain High School and Payson High School FCCLA Chapters
The FCCLA chapters of Maple Mountain High School and Payson High School joined together to celebrate National FCCLA Week.

Westlake High School FCCLA Chapter
Monday – To kick off the week chapter members handed out Smarties® candies to the student body with a message letting them know that more than half of teens killed in car accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. So, they are “smart” to buckle up and not text while driving.

Tuesday – For “Taffy Tuesday” chapter officers gave red and white taffy to members with the message: “FCCLA is the ultimate leadership experience, focusing on character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communications, practical knowledge, and career preparation. Thank you for being a member.”

Wednesday – For “Waffle Wednesday” members, who wore their chapter shirt, were treated to a waffle during lunch.

Westlake High School - Hide the logo contestThursday – For “Thirsty Thursday” red drinks were available for members with the message: “FCCLA is the only student run organization with family as its focus. FCCLA helps you grow as a leader because of the many service and leadership opportunities. Thank you for supporting FCCLA.”

Friday – FCCLA chapter members asked the student body to wear red. Chapter officers visited classrooms and handed out candy to those students wearing red.

During the week members hid the FCCLA logo throughout the school building and gave out free cinnamon roll coupons to those who found it. “It has been a great week bringing awareness to FCCLA, said Candace Wilson, FCCLA Adviser, Westlake High School. Check out our Facebook page Westlake High School FCCLA-Utah.