Hanna Ludwig is a city girl, born and raised in San Diego. Hester Kane is a country girl, born and raised right here in the Rim country.
You wouldn't think the two Payson High School students would find much in common, and at first they didn't.
Hanna, a junior, moved here in her freshman year when her father bought the local Crystal Water distributorship. It was a real culture shock for a girl from southern California.
"Everybody here was so close," she said. "They knew everything about each other and they noticed you when you came.
"They're like, 'Oh, there's a new person.' You were like pointed out right away."
Hester, a senior, is the reigning Miss Teen Country Western Arizona. "Rodeo and rodeo queen stuff" has pretty much been the focus of her life.
"I got my first horse for my first birthday, and now I have three horses," she said. "My mother is my coach and trainer and we ride and rodeo together."
By now Hester and Hanna are literally stepping on each other's lines.
"At first it was, 'No, this is crazy. This isn't happening to me. I didn't want to move here," Hanna said.
"It's like an ongoing rodeo here," Hester said.
"It was kind of a shock," Hanna said. "It was like, 'Oh, there's too many cowboys here. There was maybe like two at our school in San Diego."
"When people move here from the big city," Hester said, "they come in and they want to know, 'Where's the mall and where's the movie theater?'"
"It was definitely a shock," Hanna said. "It was like, 'There is nothing to do. There is actually nothing to do. These people must be completely bored out of their minds.'"
While Hanna, who plays on the PHS volleyball team, admits that she now likes it here "pretty much," she does not yet own a cowboy hat.
To Hester, who is so close to her first horse Maple that they jog together, a cowboy hat is one of your basic items of clothing.
But as you've probably figured out, Hester and Hanna have become friends. It happened through their mutual involvement in the Family and Consumer Sciences program at PHS.
Family and Consumer Sciences is what used to be known as home economics. Teachers Terri McKee and Devon Wells said the name was changed for a couple of reasons. "One, boys weren't allowed in the home ec. program," McKee said. "Now about a third of our students are boys.
"The other reason is that life has changed," she said. "Now we have to do everything. Both sexes. We work, we do everything at home, we take care of kids."
The state has divided Family and Consumer Sciences into three levels. "Level one is taught in the middle school," Wells said. "It's more of a basic exploration of skills."
Level two, where the focus is on life skills, is for freshmen and sophomores, while level three, for juniors and seniors, emphasizes occupational skills.
Cooking and sewing are still part of the program, but other areas that have been incorporated include wellness, human relations, employability skills and parenting. Students in the program learn how to get a job, how to communicate with others, how to interview, and how to cook for children.
Through seven courses offered at PHS with titles like Fashion Plus and Today's Teens, students explore contemporary topics like caregiving, career planning, friend and dating relationships, advanced cooking skills, customer service, interior designing and fashion merchandising. Students can even learn hands-on food service and child-care skills in the Longhorn Corral Restaurant and the Longhorn Corral Preschool.
All students in the program also belong to a modern-day equivalent of the Future Homemakers of America. Called Family, Career and Community Leaders of America or FCCLA, it's a national student organization that helps turn classroom topics into real-world action.
National programs that can be instituted on a local level include Stop the Violence, through which students become leaders among their peers in tackling teen violence, and Families First, which includes holding family fun nights and other projects to open the lines of communication. The PHS chapter just raised over $300 for United Cerebral Palsy.
Hester and Hanna are both officers in the local chapter, and Hester was recently elected vice president of community services for the state organization.
On the immediate horizon is a two-day Fall Leadership Conference beginning April 10 at Phoenix Civic Plaza. To raise money to send 20 students to that event, the PHS chapter is holding its annual Carne Asada dinner this Thursday, Feb. 8, from 4-7 p.m. in room C-6.
For $5 you get a complete dinner, including Carne Asada steak, Spanish rice, refried beans, flour tortilla and tea or punch. For reservations, call 472-5750, or just show up.
Takeout orders are also available.
Friends Hanna and Hester, the city girl and the country girl, will be there working side by side. But the day is not far off when they will once again inhabit very different worlds.
Hanna plans to go to Arizona State, while Hester is bound for the University of Arizona.