Alaska Teens Prepare for Future with FCS

Article excerpt

Chugiak High School


Living in Alaska offers many extreme challenges and opportunities for family and consumer sciences (FCS) teachers to step up to the challenges of facing the future. Simple needs such as staying warm and finding shelter from the harsh winters become essentials for survival. Alaskans and cheechakos, new people to Alaska, learn quickly that having warm, dry feet is not just a convenience, but a necessity. The Native populations learned to make muklucks from scraps of leather, fur and beads to protect their feet. Muklucks are now a very expensive clothing item and used mostly as a fashion statement. As in all communities, traditions and culture are changing in Alaska.

FCS professionals must keep pace with the changes. As the only FCS teacher in my high school, I am challenged to educate teens in all areas of FCS to prepare them for the many "shoes" they will be expected to fill as adults. To do this effectively, I must use teaching methods that integrate employability skills, life skills, and academic strategies.

Stepping Up For Our Future is a program created to offer students real life opportunities to experience FCS applied in their daily lives. Chugiak High School students, parents, staff members, business partners, and local communities join forces to encourage teens to prepare for their futures. Utilizing skills acquired from courses in food preparation, ProStart, textiles, child development, food science, and adult responsibilities, and from Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), teens learn to connect to their schools, homes, and communities. All courses integrate community service activities, job shadowing and business partner connections to strengthen academic and personal growth.

Service project examples are "Snack Attack" where students prepare and serve cookies, brownies, and muffins to troops in the flight line as they leave for deployment (3,500 the week of October 6, 2006); and Kid's Kitchen feeding program, an all-volunteer program to feed 70 low-income children. Students also prepare, serve, and clean-up once a week, and get involved in Sewing for Service, which offers students, parents, and staff a weekly, hands-on opportunity to further the skills related to sewing and community needs such as making fleece hats for winter and calico hats for those with cancer. …