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FCCLA student puts Poth on national map
Daniel Soto displays the gold medal he received for earning the national title in the FCCLA’s Focus on Children event in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month.
Story & photo by Cody Soto
“There’s no place like home. Home is the foundation for family, education, and nutrition. Babies learn to talk and walk in their home, so why can’t they learn to eat healthy?”
These were the first words that came out of Poth freshman Daniel Soto’s mouth Feb. 1 during FCCLA region competition in Corpus Christi. He spoke these words again July 8 -- this time in Nashville, Tenn.
Daniel was awarded a gold medal and national title in his specific STAR event, after he competed at the 2013 FCCLA National Conference in Nashville July 7-11. This marks the first time a Poth student has competed at the national level, with family consumer sciences teacher Gina Falcon as the chapter advisor.
“When they announced my school, I let out a huge breath of relief,” Daniel said. “It was a sense of accomplishment that all my hard work had paid off.”
Daniel competed in the STAR event, “Focus on Children,” in the junior division. His project, “Roaring for Healthy Eating,” included the theme of the popular movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
“The category’s goal is to use family consumer sciences’ (FCS) child development techniques to identify a concern among children and act on that problem in which it benefits both the kids and the community in some way,” Daniel said. “I chose this category because of my passion of working with children.”
To achieve gold at the national level, Daniel had to achieve success at both the region and state level. He did just that, earning two gold medals in previous competitions.
With each competition months apart, Daniel had to prepare on his own time, juggling among a plethora of activities, such as band, UIL academics, Science Club, and Book Club.
“I would say that the hardest part of this project was to coordinate with everyone and fit it into my tough time schedule,” Daniel said. “I had a calendar and mapped out everything to make sure nothing overlapped. I just had to make sure I could manage my time effectively.”
While in Tennessee, Daniel visited Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, enjoyed an evening performance at the Grand Ole Opry, took a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame, attended FCCLA youth and leadership workshops, and engaged in activities with students from all over the nation.
Joining Daniel on this 900-mile trip were his family members, who also visited several museums and attractions.
“We took this great opportunity to support our son in this amazing achievement, as well as enjoy a little family vacation ourselves,” said his mother, Sarah Soto. “It was a bit overwhelming to see so many people competing against him, and I was so nervous for him. However, when Daniel came out of the competition room with so much confidence, it calmed me, knowing he knew he had it.”
Daniel will be a sophomore this year; his advisor will work him even more as the vice president of the Poth FCCLA chapter.
“Daniel’s success is monumental for Poth FCCLA, because he came in as a freshman and made it to nationals in his first year,” Falcon said. “When Daniel got the gold medal, I thought, ‘OMG! I have to call Mr. Hosek, our principal,’ but I couldn’t get through to him.
“Daniel is an extraordinarily talented young man, and I am honored that he has chosen to continue his participation in the Poth FCCLA chapter as vice president of projects. He will certainly provide our members with firsthand knowledge on leadership and STAR event participation in three different levels of competition -- regional, state, and national.”
After 11 months of hard work and three gold medals, Daniel is grateful for his success and is glad it all paid off.
“I feel very thankful, knowing people in my community appreciate all that I do,” Daniel said. “Ultimately, I’m trying to make a difference and put Poth on the map.”
Cody Soto is a former Wilson County News Junior Journalist. The Poth High School graduate will attend Baylor University this fall, majoring in journalism with a concentration in public relations; he also will be a manager for the Baylor men’s basketball team.
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