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Bear Don’t Walk wins gold at national conference

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ST. IGNATIUS – Seventeen-year-old Rose Bear Don’t Walk was certain the timing of her speech didn’t go well. As soon as she saw the judge signal the one-minute mark, she skipped to the final card of her speech about the importance of the Salish language to the community, her family and herself.
“Knowing the language is important to the culture because it is the foundation,” Bear Don’t Walk, a descendant of the Salish tribe, said.
During her speech she used a display board and wore a dress made by her mother.
“I have two cousins who attend the Salish immersion school and it is important that I am able to talk to them in Salish,” she explained.
Despite cutting out parts of her speech, Bear Don’t Walk did better than she thought. She left her first national Family, Career and Community Leaders of America conference with a gold medal in interpersonal communications.
“I was really excited and happy,” Bear Don’t Walk said.
FCCLA (formerly Homemakers of America), founded in 1945, is a student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address personal, family, work and societal issues through family and consumer science education.
Bear Don’t Walk, a senior at St. Ignatius High School, has been a member for the past three years.
“Attending the conference was a great experience and I learned a lot that I want to take back to school,” she said.
Bear Don’t Walk wants to hold a dance marathon to fundraise for the Children’s Miracle Network.
“Basically we dance and run around for the kids that can’t because they are in the hospital,” she said.
She plans to attend the conference again next year and possibly participate in other competitions called STAR (students taking action with recognition) events. STAR events include competitions in culinary arts, entrepreneurship, leadership and focus on children to name a few.
Senior Sydney Allard also hopes to return to the conference and apply what she learned in her duties as the state officer of community service and president of district seven. Allard oversees FCCLA chapters in Columbia Falls, Arlee, Hot Springs, Polson and Ronan.
“It is the ultimate leadership experience,” Allard said of her involvement in FCCLA. “I love to help people. I want to give back to my community.”
The 2011 FCCLA national conference held in Anaheim, Calif., was the first FCCLA conference both girls attended. During their trip, they attended several workshops and programs that promoted community service, programs for children and leadership.
Allard said her local FCCLA chapter recently raised $836 selling tie dyed items at the Good Old Days celebration to benefit the Make A Wish foundation.
“I couldn’t have asked to take two better girls,” teacher Terry Cable said. “They were engaged and represented us very well.”
Cable said this is the first she has attended the national conference and the first time in years St. Ignatius High School has sent representatives.
“I was complimented by other teachers about Rose and Sydney,” Cable said. “I said I have more like them at home.”

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