Troy Oliver, an agricultural teacher at Sealy High School, introduced the Sealy Independent School District board of trustees to a team of seven high schoolers — Layne Blevins, Regina Fontana, Meghan Hein, Allison Schram, Paige Schultz, Danielle Thaxton and Kendall Young — that recently returned from the Texas FFA State Leadership Career Development event in Huntsville where they finished fifth place.
More than 5,800 entries began the rigorous competition statewide in 13 different events that covers basic classroom leadership.
“We had the opportunity over the last several weeks — the last several months — to be a part of a team called Senior Chapter Conducting,” Oliver said. “Chapter conducting is a contest that’s held within the FFA. It’s very old, it’s been around for over 75 years.”
The contest is a challenge of parliamentary procedure knowledge. Sam Houston State University has partnered with Texas FFA in hosting competitions for more than 80 years, according to a Texas FFA press release.
“This is the most successful team in the history of Sealy FFA,” he said to applause.
Oliver said Sealy ISD board practices during their Dec. 14 meeting caused a stir of giggles among the ladies — now that the students have a familiarity with governmental procedures and how to conduct open meetings — as they sat in the back of the board room.
Chapter conducting sparks debate, tests students speaking abilities and preparedness, examines the ability to problem solve and overall knowledge, and then combines all of that.
“They go into a room in front of a group of judges. They’re given a scenario. They get three minutes to study that scenario that they’ve never seen before and then do their 20-minute demonstration,” Oliver said.
The press release also lists Texas FFA as the nation’s largest state FFA associations that boasts a membership of more than 117,000 active FFA members. FFA programs teach skills in leadership, career development and personal growth. It gives students the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real-world experiences through local, state and national competitions.
“We’re excited to share that they were first at the district contest, second in our area and fifth in the state of Texas,” he said. “We are proud of their historic accomplishments. To kind of put it into perspective, and how noteworthy that is, the results speak for themselves and it goes far beyond that.”
This year, the students spent approximately 150 to 200 hours preparing for the event which amounts to “a lot of early mornings, afternoons, evenings. That’s a lot of sacrifices and support from their parents,” Oliver said.
The grind starts around the Austin County Fair, after long and late hours caring for livestock, and continues through December, if students find themselves state bound.
The support needed for the students’ success goes well past their parents toward help from the board, Superintendent Sheryl Moore, high school principal Megan Oliver, faculty and staff to compete on school days.
Speaking with passion was a driving force behind the team’s success, Oliver said.
“I believe they’ve learned lifelong lessons that extend far beyond the smiles and the banner right there that they will take forever and ever,” he said.