By April Ziemer

Recent competition opportunities hosted at U.W. Stout had Amery High School students showing the variety of talents that exist within the district.

Amery FCCLA competed at the campus for their Regional STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) event. Amery had 21 students attend. Amery’s FCCLA president Hannah Zinn served as a regional representative. Zinn helped plan the Regional competition and handed out medals to all the competitors.

Participants were judged in STAR competitive events where members are recognized for proficiency and achievement in chapter and individual projects, leadership skills and career preparation.

Amery competed against students from Barron, Clayton, Clear Lake, Cumberland, Glenwood City, Hudson, Luck, Osceola, Rice Lake and Siren.

Amari Conner participated in “Job Interview” which recognizes participants who use Family and Consumer Sciences or related occupations skills to develop a portfolio, participate in an interview, and communicate a personal understanding of job requirements. In her careers and technology class, Conner along with other students interviewed with Amery area business members and she received high marks. Because of this, Conner decided to participate in the job interview competition for FCCLA .

“The Occupational Job Interview STAR competition was not only excellent preparation for a real-life job interview, but also truly enjoyable for me. It was fun to explore different job opportunities and prepare a portfolio with my experiences and qualifications as if I was actually applying for the position. I can use the steps I took in preparation for this event when I apply for a job in the future,” Connor said.

Bailey Johnson competed in a Career Investigation project that recognizes participants for their ability to perform self-assessments, research and explore a career, set career goals, create a plan for achieving goals, and describe the relationship of Family and Consumer Sciences coursework to the selected career. Johnson said, “This is my second year participating in a star event, and I feel that this is such an amazing program and recommend it to any student considering joining. FCCLA allows so many opportunities to the Amery community and I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

Amery FCCLA has 70 active FCCLA members, together these students put in thousands of hours of volunteering, help raise money for local charities, attend leadership labs, participate in STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) events and give back to the community. 

“I really thought that our Amery students did such an amazing job at this year’s FCCLA regional competition. I’m so incredibly proud of every individual and cannot wait to see what will come at state,” Johnson said. The district has large portion of its participants moving on to the April State competition in Wisconsin Dells.

Receiving Silver medals at Stout were: Advocacy category, Amanda Edwards and Olivia Pettersen; Children’s Literature, Rylee Thompson; Pastries and Baked Goods, Alexis Wilcox; Sports Nutrition, Jaidyn McAlpine and Emily Pettersen.

Receiving Gold medals were: Teach and Train, Sophia Whitely; Promote and Publicize FCCLA, Abby McAlpine and Ally De la Cruz;

Job Interview, Amari Conner; Culinary Creations, Courtney Stream and Ariana Cruz; Children’s literature, Francesca Meyers; Career Investigation, Bailey Johnson and Kate Meck; Child Services Lesson, Lily Marquand, Jessica Miller and Taylor Olson; Chapter Service Project Portfolio, Larissa Johnson and Alaina Rivard.

The following day Amery sent two young men to U.W. Stout’s Recipe for Excellence competition Thursday, Feb. 14. 

Gavin Phillips and Gus Wentz were two out of a total of 24 high school students, in teams of two, brought their cooking skills and recipes for pork to the competition, which was like the Food Network’s “Iron Chef” television cooking show. Students had 60 minutes to prepare two identical pork entrees and side dishes on butane burners. A panel of judges taste-tested each of the dishes, and the other was put on display. Teams were also judged on menu design, cost analysis, safety and sanitation, presentation and fundamental coming techniques.

A release from Stout said the competition was hosted by the School of Hospitality Leadership and the WRA Education Foundation. Sponsors included Hormel, ConAgra, Chef Works, National Business Aviation Association, Mercer Culinary and Pepsi Co.

As the competitors chopped and sautéed fruits, vegetables and pork, the sweet smells lingered throughout the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

Amery High School juniors Gus Wentz and Gavin Phillips competed in their first culinary competition at Recipe for Excellence too. “It was fun, stressful but fun,” Wentz said. “When I opened up the boiling pot with the pork in it, it started to curve over. We tried cutting it but then the portions go small.”

The two worked with the Farm Table, an Amery restaurant, to develop the recipe of pork chops with carrots and pineapple. “We learned a lot,” Phillips said. “Even if we didn’t win, we got to see all the other participants. I could see everyone was ready to cook.” The two agreed they needed more color in their dish to add vibrancy.

Their coach Emily Larson is a UW-Stout 2003 alumna in family and consumer sciences education, who teaches them at Amery High School. She said one of the challenges for the team was not having electricity to keep food warm. “It lets them see how it is to be out there in a restaurant atmosphere,” Larson said. “It’s very intense and fast in food service. The timing is very strict.”

Both boys are thinking about going into culinary field after high school and are looking forward to next year’s Prostart competition at UW-Stout. They will start their training soon for next year’s competition. Wentz said he has enjoyed cooking most of his life. “You get to make people happy,” he said. “It’s fast-paced and never boring.”



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