That was what Sarah Cheatham, Emma Young, Nicole Hurst, Jessica Maginity and Ellen Richardson felt when they earned bronze and gold medals at the 2009 National Leadership Conference for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America in Nashville, Tenn.
The five South Putnam High School students were among 5,000 other participants in Nashville earlier this month, after the girls earned big scores at Indiana State FCCLA Leadership Competition in Indianapolis.
Sophomores Cheatham and Young competed in the junior category of illustrated talk. Their topic on teen eating disorders earned them the bronze medal.
Through a topic that affects their peers, Cheatham and Young were passionate about the message. The girls used posters, PowerPoint, T-shirts, pamphlets and pencils to present their topic in Nashville.
Juniors Hurst, Maginity and Richardson competed in the senior entrepreneurship category with their small business "Showtunes Café." Their 63-page business plan won them the gold medal.
"They improved their score from state (where they earned a silver medal) to nationals," said Dian Hurst, who filled in as advisor and is Nicole's mother. "That is very rare."
The inspiration for Showtunes Café came from the unique nature of Greencastle and of DePauw University. Hurst, Maginity and Richardson created the Broadway-themed coffee shop to be a major contribution to the creative awareness of young adults.
Aside from competing, the girls attended various workshops such as "The impact decisions have on your life."
"We learned a lot," the girls agreed.
FCCLA is more than just a club. It helps promote personal growth and leadership development. Its mission states members develop skills for life through character development; creative and critical thinking; interpersonal communications; practical knowledge; and career preparation.
FCCLA is only offered at South Putnam High School in Putnam County. Cheatham, Hurst and Maginity went before the school board during its July meeting and shared their experience.
"You, girls, are great representatives of South Putnam," said board president Michael Rissler.
Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt added just how proud he and the board were of the girls' success, hard work and dedication.
The girls' dedication to FCCLA shined when they were forced to go on without a leader. Stephanie Shopmeyer was the FCCLA leader until she left for maternity leave.
Helping the girls get to the state and national competitions were Dian and Sarah's mother Liz Cheatham. The women not only helped with transportation, but with fundraising due to no school funding.
The girls wrote this about Liz and Dian:
"We would like to express special gratitude to Dian Hurst for all of her time as temporary advisor and for all the effort she devoted to this cause and to Liz Cheatham for attending the conference as the necessary second chaperone. Without these two women, we would have been unable to attend the conference and only wish that our words had the capacity to fully express our gratitude."