INDIANAPOLIS — Tonasket High School’s Parliamentary Procedure team took fourth place in the nation at the National FFA Parliamentary Procedure Leadership Development Event. The event was held in conjunction with the 92nd National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis Oct. 30 – Nov. 2.
“This is the SuperBowl of the FFA, which is the largest student organization,” said Tonasket High School FFA Advisor and horticulture/shop teacher Matt Deebach. “This is the biggest of the biggest for speaking events.”
Almost 700,000 students belong to one of over 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Deebach said only three Washington state schools ever made it into finals in Parliamentary Procedure.
“It’s kind of surreal,”he said.
Nebraska took first, Texas placed second, and California came in third, followed by Tonasket.
Tonasket’s team is made up of Emma Alexander, Angelina Wilson, Jamie Wilson, Solomon Brown, Lyndzi Scott and Cheyenne Stirek.
“The whole experience was something that I think all of us are never going to forget,” said Scott.
“I’m really proud of our team and how hard we worked to get to where we were,” said Stirek.
“It was interesting to compete against the top students in the nation,” said Jamie Wilson.
“I hoped we would make it, and when you do it’s a dream come true,” said Deebach. “The kids worked really hard on their knowledge. Their Robert’s Rules of Order books are well worn.”
“It was worth all the hard work,” said Alexander.
Parliamentary Procedure is one of 25 career/leadership development event areas, covering job skills in everything from communications to mechanics. Participants can demonstrate their abilities to conduct orderly and efficient meetings, present logical and convincing discussions and properly record meeting procedures.
The testing consists of each team taking a written exam, conducting a ten-minute demonstration, responding verbally to parliamentary law questions and preparing minutes from their demonstration.
Career Development Events and Leadership Events help students develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly and perform effectively in a competitive job market, according to the National FFA organization.
“As a teacher, it’s not so much they know the nuts and bolts, but they know how to find the knowledge. That’s a skill that will last them their lifetime,” said Deebach.“The amount of dedication they showed to learning is phenomenal for youth today. They (youth) get a lot of negative press and we don’t always realize so much good is happening in our school systems.”
Deebach said he was also amazed by how many people in the community, former parliamentary procedure students, have an in-depth understanding of how meetings should be run.
“I had alumni contact me about how great the kids have done, and many said how they are applying what they learned in parliamentary procedure to their own settings in adulthood,” said Deebach. “From all over the country, alumni have been reaching out to us as the kids were competing, saying what they learned in high school they didn’t have to relearn; they have it for life and feel confident.”
The National FFA organization is supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.
“I want to thank the alumni for making the trip so nice, with all their donations and sacrificing so much to support us,” said Brown. “And thank you, Deebach, for being so miraculous.”
Angelina Wilson thanked the team’s mentors, including Deebach and Tonasket Alumni Seth Smith, a former Washington State FFA State President elected as an FFA national officer candidate.
“They were very helpful, and we wouldn’t be there without them,” said Wilson, adding, “Seth made it into the second phase, so he was in the top 25. Just seeing him running and making it as the Washington candidate, was very inspiring. He is one of our biggest role models out there.”
Deebach said all but one of Tonasket’s parliamentary procedure team members competing at Nationals passed their tests to become accredited through the Society of Agricultural Education Parliamentarians.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Deebach. “All of that is really impressive.”
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of those kids and their performance, to stand up there in front of 1500 people, after three days of intense work, and it’s broadcast live,” said Deebach. “That’s really impressive. It takes a certain kind of person, and I am really impressed with them.”