Members of the Mission High School FFA Chapter Parliamentary Procedure Team were already excited to become the first parliamentary team from the Rio Grande Valley to take the state title and advance to national competitions. Now their preparation for the national competition will take them on a side trip to Austin, for yet another honor.
The group of nine students was invited by Tom Maynard, a member of the State Board of Education, to perform a parliamentary procedure problem demonstration in the Texas Senate Chambers and also for the State Board of Education.
The members of the team are: Vanessa Calderon, president; Johanna Jimenez, secretary; Jose Calderon, officer; Rolando Hinojosa, officer; Alyssa Flores, officer; Itzel Lopez, officer; Christopher Venecia, officer; Kimberly Cantu, officer; Sebastian Martinez, officer.
Vanessa Calderon, Mission FFA parliamentary team president, said they are excited by the invitation and are looking forward to the added experience they will get in practicing before different audiences. She said qualifying to compete at nationals was a dream come true and that the invitation to perform before the members of the State Board of Education, and possibly other state officials in the Senate Chambers is an unexpected bonus.
Team members have been practicing each day and will continue to do so while in Austin. In addition to their demonstrations in the Senate Chambers and at the State Board of Education meeting, they have at least two other rehearsal times planned while out of town.
Calderon said one of the biggest challenges in preparing for the national competition has been trying to learn the format used at the national competition. Texas FFA parliamentary procedure competitions operate under a different contest format than what is used at the national level.
In the demonstration portion of the competition, the students will be provided with a motion never seen by the group before. After only a minute to review the motion, the team must conduct a very complex meeting addressing many aspects of the motion, while following proper procedures. The team has only ten minutes to complete all aspects of the meeting and bring it to a close.
Calderon said it can be very tough trying to keep up with the fast pace of the demonstration and making sure she draws upon the proper procedures throughout the proceedings. However, she also said it has been fun going through the preparation process.
For each of the daily practice sessions, FFA advisor Benito Garza provides the team with a different motion/problem to address. The practices are held in front of other FFA students, with Garza seated toward the back of the room taking notes from which to provide the team with a critique of their performance.
The demonstration is just part of the parliamentary procedure competition. Participants demonstrate their abilities to conduct orderly and efficient meetings, present logical and convincing discussions and properly record meeting procedures. Each team must take a written exam, conduct the ten-minute demonstration, respond verbally to parliamentary law questions, and prepare minutes from their demonstration.
Garza said team members could also be certified as Accredited Parliamentarians if they score well enough in the competition.
The National FFA Convention will be held October 30 through November 2, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Pictured are members of the Mission FFA Chapter Parliamentary Procedure Team during a recent practice session in their classroom. From left to right are: Itzel Lopez, Alyssa Flores (standing to address the president), Rolando Hinojosa, Jose Calderon, Johanna Jimenez, Vanessa Calderon (at the podium).