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Oak Hill leads the way for 4-H success
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Eight years ago, Oak Hill Elementary 4-H clubs began winning their series of "School of the Year" trophies for 4-H work.

Their excitement about 4-H was already infecting the rest of the school.

"I saw a poster they put up about 4-H camp, and I thought ‘I want to do that!'" said Cati Aevaliotis, now a senior at Alcovy High.

"If I had to join 4-H to go, that's what I wanted," she said.

The next year, as a fifth-grade 4-H member at Oak Hill, Cati said the teachers required 4-H projects.

"If it hadn't been for my teachers, I may not have done a project. I was really shy," she said.

Cati's first project was on how to pack a suitcase, including a tip on rolling clothes to save space.

She used that tip for 4-H summer camp that summer, and for countless 4-H trips since.

"The longer you stay in 4-H, the more you can do," she said. Her favorite 4-H trip required a little different packing.

"State 4-H Congress is so different than all the other 4-H events," said Cati. "I get to dress up and feel really important and special."

Cati earned the free, four-day trip including formal meals, donor tours, and competition by winning district project achievement in food safety and preservation with a project on dehydrated apples.

This spring will mark her third trip when she wins again, and her third chance to reach her 4-H goal to become a master 4-H'er by winning at the state level.

Just as Cati was starting her 4-H career, younger sister Jamie Aevaliotis was a third grader in Ms. Clason's class at Oak Hill.

The class visited Ms. Hall's 4-H club, where Jamie said the teacher informed them they should collect pop tabs for her 4-H club.

"So I brought in pop tabs for her club, not my sister's club," said Jamie.

Both sisters have remained active in 4-H through middle and high school.

Jamie said one of her favorite service projects is the annual book collection.

"I liked sorting and cleaning the books, then tossing them to the next person for labels," she said.

She pointed out how putting several 4-H'ers in one room, regardless of the activity, always results in laughter and fun.

Cati most enjoyed the last portion of the service learning project for The Learning Center.

"I liked handing out the children's books at the Christmas parade. It was really cool seeing these kids getting all excited when I handed them a book," she said.
In addition to 4-H, both girls are also active leaders at their church, St. Pius X Catholic Church, in Conyers, and in various extracurricular activities at Alcovy High.
But they both point back to 4-H for leadership training, including a 4-H sponsorship to the Georgia Cooperative Youth Camp.

Jamie said, "In one team activity at co-op camp, we had to do the course twice. Once we could talk, and the other time we had to be quiet.

"Too many voices at one time confused people and we kept failing, but when we had to do it totally quiet, with hand motions, it made me think about how to communicate. When one person was the main director, we ended up winning as a team."

Each has also served as a teen leader at 4-H summer camp.

In Cati's first summer, a huge thunderstorm struck camp, forcing evacuation from a pavilion to cabins all over camp.

Cati kept an entire cabin of upset girls calm until their adult leader could join them.
This summer was Jamie's first summer as a teen leader.

"Ms. Kim (the 4-H program assistant) talked to me about being their friend, but being more serious," said Jamie. "I would ask them to do things, not tell them, and it worked."

Jamie wants to continue to work with children, but much younger, as a neonatal nurse.

Cati also plans to work with children, but as an elementary school teacher. She plans to apply to early childhood education programs for next year at North Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, and West Georgia.

She said 4-H taught her how to make friends of complete strangers - a skill she expects will help even in college, where she hopes to remain in 4-H or charter a collegiate 4-H chapter.