Before I begin today’s Game On post, I’d like to amend the list of people you should consider adding to your circle of FACS supporters from yesterday’s post. Your circle should include any and all FACS educators in your district or region. That would include the FACS teachers in surrounding school districts as well as instructors that teach FACS-related content at community colleges, private schools and universities. These fellow FACS educators can be an invaluable source of support and information! Sorry that I didn’t think of them yesterday! If your county still has a 4H program, the program coordinator and parent volunteers are also potential sources of support and information.
Today I want you to think about the concept of competition. If I were to ask any one of you what’s the most recognized and supported program in your school, I would be willing to bet a lot of money that almost every one of you would say athletics. If your community is anything like mine, attending the high school football or basketball game each weekend is the most popular event on the community social calendar. We all love to go out and support our team, right?
This national passion for competition has elevated our sports programs above virtually all other programs in our schools, making it very hard for programs like FACS to compete for student contact time and funding. If you lose the competition in these two vital areas, it can spell disaster for your program.
So how does the savvy FACS teacher fight back? By staging a FACS competition, of course! Putting your students’ skills and knowledge to the test is a great way to showcase your program and also to encourage your students to perform at the peak of their ability. There are already some wonderful competitive programs in place through FCCLA. BTW—If you don’t already have a local FCCLA chapter, you should absolutely start one today! Go to http://fcclainc.org/ for everything you need to know to start a chapter.
Staging your own competitive event is another option. Cooking competitions can be a great experience for students contemplating a culinary career. Holding the event in a public forum or in conjunction with a large community event will get your contest noticed and your program recognized. Doing a web search for staging a cooking competition will produce many examples of guidelines that you can use to plan your event.
You will want to keep your competition as professional as possible. I suggest that you invite food service professionals to act as judges and that you set and maintain strict standards for participation. You should also make every effort to provide prizes that will serve as real incentives for your students.
Finally, publicize the event in advance and make a big deal of announcing the winners following the event!! Make sure that you repeat all of the information about the event—name of the course, your name, etc.—in every announcement! Don’t assume that people reading your press release know who you are and what FACS is all about. To get the most benefit for your FACS program, the link between the competition and your FACS program must be established and emphasized.
Competitive events for other FACS content areas might require a little more imagination and creativity, but are certainly possible. A Project Runway-style event for a clothing and textiles class or a competition based on an HGTV or DIY format could be fun. The goal is to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their FACS skills and to showcase your program to your community.
After you’ve gone to all the effort of staging a successful event, don’t neglect the follow-up publicity! Your students need the recognition and so does your program. Marketing, my friends, is vitally important!! SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!!
“I hope I am winning a way which others will keep open.” Ellen Swallow Richards