Karen Thomas Community Service Award

General Brown FCCLA chapter headed to national conference

  • The General Brown Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter will be represented at the organization’s national conference in California this summer.

    It comes after six students and FCCLA Adviser Hannah Cottrell attended the New York State FCCLA Conference in Callicoon, N.Y. last month. They joined 94 students from 10 different schools from across the state. General Brown is the only school in the North Country that hosts a FCCLA chapter.

    "The conference was amazing, with amazing people,” said Riley Cornell, a tenth-grade student at General Brown High School. “It definitely has made my first year of FCCLA a memorable one."

    “It was truly a great experience,” said Kaylee Fields, also a 10th-grader. “I learned and grew through the workshops we had and through my love for public speaking and made lots of new friends along the way.”

    At the conference, the General Brown chapter was given the Karen Thomas Community Service Award. It is named after Karen Thomas, a former educator at General Brown. Thomas was heavily involved in FCCLA during her years as a home economics teacher. Thomas eventually retired from the district after 25 years of service and later passed away in 2020.

    Students and Mrs. Cottrell said they are proud to have been the first chapter to take home this new award, which celebrates efforts to help neighbors in the community.

    Over the course of this school year, the 20-member group put together stockings for senior citizens, collected blankets and made dog toys for the Jefferson County SPCA.

    “If a group needs our help, we volunteer,” said Mrs. Cottrell. “The students are doing a great job and I am glad they are getting some recognition.”

    “I like helping other people,” said 10th-grader McKenna Lee. “I am quite proud of everyone who contributed to get to this point.”

    Lee was recently appointed to represent New York State FCCLA as Jr. Vice President of Finance. As a state officer, Lee will be one of at least two General Brown students heading to the national conference in June.

    Each year, students who head to the state and national conferences compete in skills-based competitions in subjects like culinary and table setting, food innovation and construction. The goal is to help prepare and support students who want to pursue careers that help support families.

    “Public speaking is a big part of what I would like to do in the future,” Lee said. “These are skills that I am going to use.”

    Mrs. Cottrell, who is currently a family and consumer sciences teacher at General Brown High School, is a graduating member of General Brown’s class of 2005. She was an active member of FCCLA for many years as a student and is happy to now serve as an adviser to the chapter.

    “I wouldn’t have been a teacher if I wasn’t a part of this organization,” said Mrs. Cottrell.

    Mrs. Cottrell said none of the chapter’s recent success would be possible without all the support the group receives from the local community.

    “It is all about community service,” Mrs. Cottrell said. “We love the support from community businesses, which ends up helping others in the community too.”

    The FCCLA National Leadership Conference will be held in San Diego, Calif. from June 29-July 3.

    Learn more about New York FCCLA.