A Columbus East High School senior is looking to make the most of her final months overseeing a state organization focusing on families and community service.

Ellie Simpson, 17, is president of the Indiana Family Career and Community Leaders of America organization, which has 2,000 members and 170 chapters across the state. She was selected for the position last March after a lengthy process that included an application and interviews with other students during a state FCCLA conference in Muncie.

Simpson, who also is vice president of the Columbus East chapter, has been involved with the organization since her freshman year after taking an interpersonal relationships class with family and consumer science teacher Karen Nading.

She has taken the community service aspect to FCCLA to heart, participating in crafts and playing bingo with residents at Four Seasons, a local retirement community. She also has helped serve dinners at Hope Moravian Church for those in need, with the help of the 51 members of the East FCCLA chapter.

Nading said the career and technical organization is entirely student-driven and enjoys seeing individuals such as Simpson take their own initiative.

“They’re the ones that have to take the challenge of whatever project or community service they choose,” Nading said.

Simpson has a full plate in the coming months, including preparing for a state FCCLA meeting in Muncie March 8 to 10 and working to promote FCCLA during National FCCLA Week at Columbus East. That will include a family meal night at the school in an effort to bring families together, Simpson said.

Simpson said her involvement in FCCLA has allowed her to grow as an individual.

“It’s helped me come out of my shell,” Simpson said. “It’s helped a lot to be able to go up and talk to people I didn’t know. It’s something I couldn’t do before.”

Nading also commended Simpson for her efforts to make a difference, describing her as a person who always is willing to help others.

“She’s got all the right stuff,” Nading said. “She thinks ahead and outside the box. I enjoy watching the students become leaders.”

She decided to skip playing volleyball her senior year after participating since her freshman year in an effort to spend more time with her own family, where she is the youngest of four siblings.

Among her priorities as she approaches graduation include trying to grow Columbus East’s FCCLA chapter, making new friendships, meeting individuals involved in FCCLA from other cities across Indiana and the United States and enjoying travel opportunities as president of the organization.

“I feel like I’ve become a new person … and I’ve learned to be who I am,” Simpson said.

Simpson plans to study early childhood education at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, this fall.

Ellie Simpson

Age: 17

School: Columbus East High School senior

Family: Parents Rob and Julie; siblings include Anthony, Jordan, Jessica and Elijah

Involvement in FCCLA: Currently serves as vice president of the Columbus East High School chapter and president of the Indiana FCCLA, which has 2,000 members and 170 chapters across the state

Education: Plans to study early childhood education at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, this fall

Author photo
Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com