#1StudentNWI: FCCLA raises over $1,000 for N.I.C.K Foundation

#1StudentNWI: FCCLA raises over $1,000 for N.I.C.K Foundation

What’s recently happened?

On Saturday, April 2, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club raised over $1,000 for the Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation when they hosted their annual Dancing with the Panthers fundraising event at the Griffith Fieldhouse.

Each member of FCCLA was required to be the captain of or join a successful team, and there was a limit of ten people per team. Every team had to raise at least $200 to get into the event and each team chose a color to represent them.

After hearing an inspiring speech from a boy who has been battling leukemia and has relied on the N.I.C.K. Foundation for the majority of his life, the teams worked as hard as they could to raise as much money as possible towards their end totals. They did this by utilizing social media, calling family and friends, winning the various games, and even donating money themselves. This year, $1,576 was raised altogether. The team that raised the most money was the Red Team team with over $300. They won gold bead necklaces, a customized trophy, and prize bags.

Senior Aseret Baez, who was a part of the winning team, shared her thoughts from the fundraiser.

“What I enjoyed the most about the whole event was being able to raise a good amount of money for the many children battling childhood cancer. I appreciate the gratification of knowing that everyone was able to make a difference that night," said Baez.

During the event, there was a photo booth, bounce house, DJ, and a concession stand available for all of the students. Students were even allowed to write a wish for children battling cancer on the “Wish Wall” and dedicate their presence at the event to someone they love who has also battled cancer on the “Dedication Wall."

The dance contest that one or two people on each team participated in was won by two students from the Green Team as they received the loudest applause from audience members.

Other activities included sharks and minnows, ships and sailors, and an obstacle course. The person who won any of these activities received more money for their team total. This money was donated to the N.I.C.K Foundation by staff members from Griffith, so it allowed students to win $30 or even $50 more for their teams’ final totals for the night.

The night concluded with a glow stick dance party to the song “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. During the dance party, teams celebrated the fact that they raised over $1,000 for a foundation that holds a special place in the members of FCCLA’s hearts.

What’s coming up?

During the weekend of April 22 to 24, the Griffith Theatre Company will debut the production of their spring musical, “Grease”.

Starring senior Daniel Sheffield as Danny Zuko and Junior Bella Andriessen as Sandy Dumbrowski, the show will take audience members back in time to the 1950s – an era filled with greasers and malt shops.

This will be the first musical the Griffith Theatre Company has produced since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, as there just hasn’t been enough revenue brought in to buy the rights for any musicals in the last two years. This year, “Grease” is expected to bring in a large number of audience members from all different age groups.

Production for the musical started a few months ago. After cast and crew lists came out, everyone became incredibly busy preparing for the big weekend. The cast began learning their lines, songs, and choreography for the show. The crews began building sets, assembling costumes, doing hair and makeup trials on cast members, and learning their cues for lights and sound.

On Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23, the show starts at 7 p.m. General admission is $9 per ticket and $8 per ticket for kids and senior citizens. The matinee will take place on Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m.

Staff spotlight

Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) department teacher Sara Jongsma fills many titles at Griffith. On top of teaching FACS classes to high school students, she also takes pride in being the color guard coach and the choreographer for Griffith Theatre Company’s spring musicals.

Jongsma currently teaches Introduction to Culinary and Hospitality, Advanced Nutrition and Wellness, Human and Social Services, Advanced Child Development, and Interpersonal Relationships. She loves teaching these classes because she likes knowing that what she teaches will be 100% helpful for her students' futures.

“We truly teach ‘the FACS of life!'” Jongsma said. “My students may not remember my name ten years from now, but when they cook dinner for their future family, budget for a vacation, or fix a tear in their child’s clothing, they will use something they learned in my class to help them. I think it is awesome to have that kind of lasting impact."

Jongsma has always believed that FACS classes are extremely important for students’ well-being, especially in this day and age. This is because she feels like the world has become so busy that sometimes the most basic skills in the home and society are overlooked and not taught to the next generation.

“I feel it’s important for these skills to still be taught, whether it’s how to burp a baby, how a child develops, communication skills, how to prepare a meal, change a tire, balance a checkbook, or even design a house," said Jongsma. "FACS classes offer a moment throughout students’ busy days to teach them important life skills that they can then use to create better lives for themselves and their families in the future.”

On top of influencing her students inside of the classroom, Jongsma has also become skilled at teaching them during their extra-curricular activities, as well. She has been the choreographer for the Griffith Theatre Company’s spring musicals for a few years now, and this is also her first year taking on the role of the color guard coach. Working with her students outside of the classroom allows her to have fun with them in a more relaxed environment where they can be silly and learn from each other.

“I enjoy being able to work creatively on a project. My first passion in life is dance and it’s nice to be able to incorporate it into my daily life through the color guard and musical theatre,” Jongsma said.

One of the main focuses of Jongma’s career has been the development of a club at Griffith called the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Along with FACS Department Head Shannon Scheidel, Jongsma’s entire goal with FCCLA is to provide opportunities for personal development and preparation for adult life, as well as encourage her students with democracy through cooperative action in the home and community.

“FCCLA at Griffith High School was started many years ago by a former teacher. FCCLA is a national organization that has chapters in schools around the country. We do not compete at Griffith, but students in FCCLA can enter competitions where they demonstrate various products and projects that they work on throughout the school year and receive rankings at regional, state, and national competitions," said Jongsma. "At Griffith High School, we focus on the volunteering element of FCCLA and work to make our school and community a better place than how we found it."

Student spotlight

Senior, pitcher, third basemen, and lifelong resident of Griffith, Payton Kinder has been in love with playing softball ever since she could remember.

From the moment her mom signed her up for the sport at four-years-old until now, Kinder has learned to enjoy the long summer days when she is tired and covered in dirt. It may sound odd, but those are the specific moments in her life when she’s having a great time being with her friends and her teammates without a care in the world. Her love for the sport took her from pitching softballs with her Mom in the alley, to playing on the Griffith High School Varsity Softball team and various other travel ball teams throughout the summer.

“I love when the whole team has amped-up energy from coming off of a bad game because we always come together to overcome the challenges we faced. This helps us to come out on top and win the next game with added confidence," Kinder said.

When she isn’t playing her favorite sport, Kinder is either reading, displaying her aesthetics, or developing her music taste.

Around the same time she fell in love with softball, she also fell in love with books. If a book caught her interest throughout elementary and middle school, she would enjoy reading it. Growing her book collection only became a hobby of hers recently when she went on a road trip and finished one on the way there. Before she went home, she asked her mother to stop by a book store so she could purchase some more.

From there, her love for reading has blossomed and it’s nearly impossible for her to keep her nose out of a book.

“I just find that finishing a book is so much more rewarding. It leaves me feeling good about how I’m spending my time, compared to when I sit on my phone for hours at a time," said Kinder. "My current read is ‘A Thousand Boy Kisses' by Tillie Cole, but a book I love is ‘Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren.'”

Kinder’s aesthetic is so unique, that there is no specific label for it. This is because she mainly gets a lot of her random outfit ideas from Pinterest. Of her specific tastes, the ones she enjoys the most are wearing baggy jeans and knitted tops while also showcasing her love for tote bags and bright colors.

“I wouldn’t say that I have one distinct aesthetic. I think as much as people try to stand out and be different from what the typical ‘teenage girl’ dresses like, sometimes it’s nice to find inspiration from others and share clothes and other outfit ideas from others. I would also say that Harry Styles has had a major impact on my sense of style in the fact that he has allowed me to be secure in my sense of self and to wear what I like even if it’s a little weird or different. He is my biggest inspiration and his music has changed my life and has allowed me to meet new friends and have some of the best memories,” Kinder said.

After high school, Kinder is planning to attend Loyola University in Chicago, although she hasn’t committed yet. She plans to study criminal justice and criminology, but she has also considered a major in forensic science or psychology.

“I just think there are so many people who need help with finding justice for themselves or their loved ones and there just aren’t enough people to help them, so I would love to be the one to do it!" said Kinder.