North Hardin High School incoming senior Baylee Hess was recently elected to a state Family Career and Community Leaders of America office.
Her interview experience was a little different from candidates in previous years.
The original plan was for state officer candidates to do their speeches and interviews at the Galt House in Louisville during the state leadership conference. Then COVID-19 hit and plans changed.
“It was disappointing to all of us knowing that we would not have that same experience as past state officers, but we also knew that Kentucky FCCLA never lets us down,” said Hess, 16, of Vine Grove. “The speeches were to be recorded and sent in, which actually helped with nerves.”
The interviews were conducted using Microsoft Meetings. During the virtual meeting, the nominating committee asked Hess questions.
“The experience ended up being extremely fun, especially during all the time we had off due to COVID-19,’’ she said. “It was very different, but ended up being an experience I will never forget.”
She was elected as the vice- president of public relations for the Kentucky FCCLA. Her duties will include maintaining Kentucky FCCLA’s social media accounts, writing newsletters for November and February and keeping up with activities involving social media.
“I already love this position so much, and am having tons of fun with it,” Hess said.
During her time in a FCCLA office she has two specific goals. She wants to educate more people about the organization and get more members to join. She remembers she had never heard about FCCLA in middle school but in high school it changed her life.
She also wants to spend a lot of time promoting FCCLA and to make the organization’s social media inviting, fun, interactive and educational.
When she went to her first state leadership conference early in her high school career, she knew she wanted to be on stage as an officer one day.
“Over the first three years of being in FCCLA and going to many SLC’s, my passion grew stronger and stronger,” she said. “My advisor, Mrs. Jamie Cheatwood, encouraged me and stood by my side with my dreams of becoming a state officer, which helped tons.”
Cheatwood said she’s proud of Hess. “Everything from her work ethic and positive attitude to acceptance of others and fun-loving personality are contagious,” Cheatwood said. “I had the pleasure of working closely with Baylee during the 2019-20 school year as our FCCLA chapter president and she was everything we could have imagined in a leader.”
As an advisor, her role is usually to give guidance to students and keep them on track, but she never had to do that with Hess.
“She thought of things before I had to tell her, and every single task she did was done perfectly the first time,” she said. “I am so thankful I get to work with her again this school year and continue this journey.”
Hess is the first state officer from North Hardin High School, Cheatwood said.
“I know she is going to leave a lasting legacy,” she said.
Along with her advisor, Hess said her best friend, Gracyn Cook, of Grayson County High School, encouraged her. They both ran and won offices at the state level.
“FCCLA has given a lot to me, and I decided I wanted to give back to the organization and members,” Hess said. “FCCLA taught me about leadership and shaped me into the person I am today, while also allowing me to give back to my school and community.”
Along with FCCLA, Hess is involved with North Hardin Choir, Lincoln Trail Youth Salute, pageants, Pura Vida Representative activities and she was Junior Class President.
“I am involved with these activities specifically because they give me a platform to speak, perform and make change,” Hess said.
Being involved in North Hardin Choir led to numerous leads in musicals as well as solos, she said.
“This past year, I played the role of Sour Kangaroo in ‘Seussical the Musical,’ which allowed me to showcase my talents in a way I never was able to,” Hess said. “Before I join an organization or represent a company, I make sure that they are positive and help others in great ways.”
After high school, she knows she wants to major in political science, but still is undecided about what college she’d like to attend. Her goal is to one day become a United States senator.
A motto she lives by is “treat people with kindness.” She said she has a passion to spread that message to make her school and community a better place, one step at a time.