Sully Buttes sophomore Mallory Wiley recently returned from the National FCCLA Conference in Anaheim, CA, where she presented her STAR Event in the category (Junior) Nutrition and Wellness, earning a gold medal.

STAR Events (Students Taking Action with Recognition) are competitive events in which FCCLA members are recognized for proficiency and achievement in chapter and individual projects, leadership skills, and career preparation.

Mallory, who has been diagnosed with gastroparesis, a disease where the stomach cannot empty itself in a normal fashion which results in heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and feeling full quickly when eating, chose as her topic ‘malnourishment as a chronic illness.’

To ensure that she receives adequate nutrition, Mallory had a procedure to implant a feeding tube in November of 2018. It was shortly after that she spoke with her FCCLA advisor, Sully Buttes Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) instructor Vicki Lentz, about doing the STAR event. 

“Your first year in FCCLA is supposed to be Illustrated Talks, but I told her I wanted to do this, and she said it would be a very good topic for me to focus on,” said Mallory. Mrs. Lentz told us, “Choosing a STAR Event that a student can personally relate to and understand, makes them much more successful; as Mallory proved to us in Anaheim.”

She began researching her topic in December, but had to start over in February after she lost all her work. “I’m just happy I still had my websites in a separate document,” said Mallory. She started over, and finished her research just in time to prepare for the State FCCLA Conference in Sioux Falls last April. She earned Gold Top Superior for her presentation and qualified for the National Leadership Conference.

During her STAR event presentation, Mallory talked about the serious symptoms of malnourishment such as stunted growth, loss of hair and intestinal bacterial overgrowth. “As I was researching, I realized how many of those symptoms that I had,” said Mallory.

Mallory talked about the importance of supplementing with vitamins and other nutrients. “I wasn’t getting any nutrients when I was throwing up all the time,” said Mallory. “Everything I ate came back up.” After the procedure to insert a feeding tube, she was able to receive the important nutrients.

“Now I’m eating what I need to,” said Mallory, who eats two big meals and three smaller meals daily. “I’m hungry a lot, but when I eat, I’m full right away.”

Over 8700 FCCLA members, chaperones and adults attended the national conference. “One of my favorite parts about it was the Fourth of July party. Everyone was together for the supper and dance, so you got to interact with all the different states.”

Mallory competed in the Junior division of Nutrition and Wellness, which was open to students in sixth through ninth grade. “It was basically the same as the state competition, but a lot more pressure,” said Mallory. Mallory was well prepared to give her presentation. “I practiced a lot,” said Mallory. “After a week, I had memorized my first two notecards. It was non-stop practice to make sure I knew what I was saying and was correct. Mrs. Lentz was a big help, and I want to thank her for that.” Mallory says that she bolded certain things on her notecards so that she could explain them as something she learned in FACS class, and meet other requirements.

Practicing helped Mallory not only learn her subject, it also helped her avoid making public speaking mistakes, such as “talking too fast is kind of a problem for me,” said Mallory. “I was told to talk word by word, like you’re talking to a two-year-old.”

At the end of her presentation, Mallory was asked just two questions: ‘How are you feeling today?’ and ‘What grade are you in?’

Usually, the feeding tube Mallory received might need to be replaced every three months because it “gets warped on the inside, but I think we’re between four and five months right now because I’m not using it really, so it’s not affected.”

“I have a problem with liquids like soups or apple sauce. I can’t stand the smell of fried food anymore.” Instead, rice has become a staple in her diet, along with grilled meat.

Being in Anaheim afforded Mallory the opportunity to tour Disneyland where she ate at Pizza Planet in the Toy Story section of the park. “I ended up eating pizza and salad,” said Mallory. “Usually, I’d go to where all the fruit and veggies are and get them. Fruits have always been good for me, and I’ve always liked it.”

Her experience her first year in FCCLA has inspired Mallory to run for a Regional FCCLA office next year. “If you’re elected the region president, you’re automatically a state officer,” said Mallory.  Her advisor, Vicki Lentz said, “Mallory has an energetic and out-going personality that naturally draws other people to her.  Those qualities along with hard work and a good attitude will make her successful in anything she tries to do in life.”

Mallory says that she decided to join FCCLA because “I thought it would be fun to do, the joy of FCCLA. I feel like you can go a lot farther in FCCLA. You learn leadership, and all the hard work pays off.”

A sophomore at Sully Buttes, Mallory is the daughter of Mike and Janel Wiley of Onida.

FCCLA stands for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America and was first established in 1945. FCCLA is the only youth-led organization with the family as its central focus. This career-technical student organization prepares youth to assume adult roles in society as wage earners, community leaders, and caring family members by giving them important life skills needed to thrive in their families, careers, and communities.

Sully Buttes FCCLA is open to any student in grades 9-12.  The main focus of our local organization is community service and activities to strengthen the family.