My favorite trip of the year? State Convention. At the end of every March, my Tennessee FFA family and I work our way East (down in the Tennessee hills, ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top, ain't no telephone bills. Gooood, ol', Rocky Top.... ok, I'm done.) and gather in Gatlinburg for a week of excitement. This year, 18 members of the Page FFA Chapter attended state. After a year of hard work, my members impressed me just as they always do.
The Agriculture Issues CDE team was named the State Runner-Up! This team worked for months, presenting to local groups interested in the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry and practicing their presentation after school. After the first round my students came out and felt pretty good about their performance. There is nothing quite like the excitement of running up the holding room to see if the finalists have been posted. We wait eagerly at the board until an official walks out with a piece of paper with two names. A crowd usually gathers and my students crane their necks to see if Page is listed - and it was! They made it to the final round and presented on the finals stage. I was so impressed by their performance; they captivated the audience with their genuine and passionate delivery of their roles in the issue of the Horse Protection Act Amendments.
My chapter president was also named the State Runner-Up in the Job Interview CDE (for the second year in a row!). I know she was a little disappointed that she didn't take home the win her senior year, but this marks 4 years that a Page FFA member has been either the winner or runner-up in this CDE.
7 seniors received their State FFA Degree (3.85% of members earned it this year in Tennessee). These were the members who were freshman during my first year teaching. I still remember where they sat in my classroom that first year, and just a week ago I watched them walk across stage to receive the highest award a state can honor. So proud!
We also had a student play his banjo as State Talent on stage and at a banquet during convention. He is truly gifted. I will definitely be sending in an application for National Talent for this young man!
In addition, Page FFA received a State Superior Rating, was recognized for 100% membership and for our National 3-Star Rating. We had virtually no issues the entire trip, aside from the fact it snowed the entire time, which not even the seasoned advisors could ever remember happening during convention before.
On a personal note. I was humbled and touched when the retiring State FFA President began thanking his advisors and was listing those who helped him during his year. Without warning, my picture pops up and I hear a pre-recorded message from him that thanked me for my passion and for helping him with his Prepared Speaking when he went to nationals. I rarely get caught off guard, but he did a good job of keeping that nod under wraps and successfully brought me to a few happy tears.
Now we prepare for the final 3 CDEs for the year and our regional and chapter banquets. We are expecting a check in the mail today from a generous donor who randomly emailed me to say they wanted to donate a large sum of money to our chapter. More on that blessing in my next post!