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A passion for their topic; two students earn national awards

Adam Petrich and Anna Woidyla stand next to their displays that helped them earn national honors at a Family, Career and Community Leaders of America conference. (Contributed) 1 / 2
Osakis FCCLA students Anna Woidyla (left) and Adam Petrich (right) and their FCCLA chapter advisor, Kelsey McKim, attended the FCCLA National Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. (Contributed)2 / 2

Two Osakis High School students brought home awards from the Family Career and Community Leaders of America national leadership conference that took place in Atlanta, Georgia.

Anna Woidyla finished first in the nation in the Advocacy Junior category and Adam Petrick was 39th in the Illustrated Talk division.

Kelsey McKim, chapter advisor for the Osakis FCCLA, is proud of all her students and said the outcome at the national level was impressive.

"Anna placed first in the nation," said McKim. "I'm very happy about that. I am not sure what her ranking was, but her score was 99.33, that's very, very good."

McKim said Petrich also shined at nationals.

"I expected them to do very well as they both in a lot of work leading up to the conference," she said.

McKim said Woidlya picked her topic — "Defeat Dementia — Motivated, Informed and Involved," because Woidlya's grandma passed away from dementia. She said Woidlya did well because she was passionate about the topic.

Her study of dementia resulted in her starting a walk to defeat Alzheimer's disease. She plans to pursue a career in Alzheimer's research and cure. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death. One of three seniors die of dementia.

Anna described her journey of learning about the disease, attending an Alzheimer's conference, and visiting the Minnesota State Legislature in St. Paul to talk with the local representatives. She is also volunteering for the Alexandria Alzheimer Walk next October.

Petrich, McKim said, also selected a topic he knew a lot — Crohn's disease. He was diagnosed with it in 2014 and his presentation, "Life Takes Guts," presented information about the inflamed bowel disease and his personal journey through treatments, surgeries and remissions.

McKinn said Petrich is passionate about educating people about Crohn's.

"I was happy that they picked topics that challenged them," said McKim. "I think it pushed them to do well."

McKim noted that this was both students' first time at nationals and that this was only Woidlya's second year in FCCLA and Petrich's first year. "That's pretty cool," she said.

Woidlya and Petrich were able to attend the conference thanks to donations from the Osakis Lions Club, Osakis VFW Post 7902, the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, First National Bank of Osakis and the Nelson Men's Club. They also received support from Osakis Public Schools, their church, and family and friends.

About the conference

The conference centered around the national theme, "Be Inspired." More than 7,000 attendees worked to improve their leadership skills. They heard from a speaker, Johnny Cupcakes, who urged them to do more of what makes them happy and noted that the more you put in, the more you get out.

Other entertainment included a gala dance, a Run4Red FK Glow Run/Walk and an exhibit hall.

Minnesota FCCLA members competed in a wide range of competitive events, went to leadership training sessions and attended workshops to prepare them for the upcoming year as a FCCLA member, chapter, area or even state officer.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to tour the city of Atlanta and surrounding areas.

Minnesota FCCLA members earned a total of 48 gold medals, 46 silver medals and 10 bronze medals at the conference.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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