O’NEALS – Six students returned home to Minarets High School as National Champions, after reaping top honors at the prestigious Future Farmers of America (FFA) competition in parliamentary law and procedure, Parli Pro, held over three days in Indianapolis, Indiana.
During the FFA Parliamentary Procedure Career Development Event (CDE), teams conduct a mock chapter meeting to show their knowledge of parliamentary law and the correct use of procedures.Parliamentary procedure refers to the rules that govern the conduct of legislatures and other deliberative bodies. The connection between agriculture and parliamentary procedure is about communication.
Team Chairman Sarah Graves and Secretary Rachel Oatman represented California at the contest, with Chairs Sarah Bradshaw, Cody McDougald, Joshua Dowell and Breanna Cairns. They swept the CDE, becoming National Champions of the Parliamentary Procedure CDE. Additionally, Cairns was named Outstanding Member of the entire contest. Motion to congratulate!
Minarets Ag and Science teacher Kristann Mattes coached the winning team. She says the school has offered a parliamentary procedure team since it opened with just 27 students in the 2007. Four students from that original group went on to become national champs.
“We all have to do presentations,” explains Mattes of everyday life. “We know the number one fear people have is public speaking, above death by fire and drowning. So we try to give students those skills so they are advocates of agriculture.”
The Minarets team won every competition in which they participated, and clinched the state title last spring, just as four senior teammates were set to graduate. The graduates were still called on to compete for the national championship this fall, making it tough to keep the team together for practice.
Tougher still was losing their long-time coach, Austin Large, who couldn’t pass up a great job offer in Texas, even though it meant leaving Minarets with only 5 months to go before the national contest. The team group was disappointed to see the beloved Large move on, but remained undaunted.
“We were prepared for anything!” notes Mattes. Students were required to take a 50 question written test on parliamentary law, with a goal of 80%, to become Accredited Parliamentarians. Every member of the Minarets team earned the designation, scoring 86-88%.
32 state teams were eliminated on the second day of competition. Students who placed in the top 12 were required to write minutes, complete demonstrations and answer questions before the overall winners were revealed on the third day the event.
Finally, the dedicated group was challenged to a problem-solving scenario and required to cite specifically from the 400+ page tome, Robert’s Rules of Order, the most commonly used reference book for parliamentary procedure. This experience is invaluable, according to Mattes.
“In parliamentary law, a big portion is to be able to advocate the rights of the minority and majority,” explains the veteran educator. “If you can’t articulate, you cannot make your point. They must learn to express themselves.”
Coach Mattes says matriculating members means the team takes new shape, and some terrific challengers – and challenges – are ahead.