Standish-Sterling FFA team takes first at state convention

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Jessica Stoner, Rachel Baker, McKaylyn Mitrzyk, Arika White, Jackie Anerson, Jane Osier and Mackenzie Labeau pose with their trophy and plaques around a painted rock in Lansing.
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(Left to right) Rachel Baker, Mackenzie Labeau, Jessica Stoner, Jackie Anderson, Arika White, McKaylyn Mitrzyk and Jane Osier pose for a photo surrounding the their coach, Leona Daniels.
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By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH — It’s been three years in the making, but the dedication of seven young ladies in the Standish-Sterling FFA Chapter definitely paid off when the team won the Parliamentary Procedure state championship during the Michigan State FFA Convention in Lansing last week.

Ryan Stokoszynski, Standish-Sterling’s FFA Advisor, says Parliamentary Procedure requires a team to “Conduct a meeting where the majority rules and the rights of the minority are upheld following a given set of procedural guidelines and then answering questions asked by a panel of contest judges.”

He added the team competed on Thursday, March 12 and were announced as the winners on March 13.

“Parliamentary Procedure is the hardest FFA contest to win and these girls worked hard to win us our first FFA State Championship in Parli Pro,” Stokoszynski said.

The team, made up of Rachel Baker, Mackenzie Labeau, Jessica Stoner, Jackie Anderson, Arika White, McKaylyn Mitrzyk and Jane Osier were confident after the team’s performance on Thursday.

“We did it and we walked out and were just in shock because that was the best meeting we ever had,” Stoner said, adding the group’s chairperson, Anderson, gave them even more hope during the state award session. “Jackie went up front just kept smiling at us.”

When their names were announced, Stoner says emotion took over.

“We just freaked out and were screaming and crying,” she said, adding the emotional high lasted the whole way back to Standish too. “We’d like break out in tears and were like ‘We’re going to Nationals!’”

But qualifying for FFA National Convention, which is in October in Indianapolis this year, wasn’t easy.

“These girls had a goal from day one of making it to state convention and getting the gold medal at states,” said the team’s coach Leona Daniels. “The first year (2007) they didn’t even make it out of districts.”

And, Daniels continued, while the team improved last year, its performance at the state level didn’t satisfy the girls’ goal of earning a gold medal, as the team was awarded a silver one last year.

“When they came home from states last year they knew they didn’t do their best,” she said.

Daniels, who has coached the team for the past three years, worked often and early in helping the team get prepared for victory this year.

“We practiced with her (Daniels) about three mornings a week at 6:30 a.m. at Sterling Elementary,” Stoner said, adding that practice schedule began in December.

“There aren’t many kids who would come to school at 6:30 in the morning to practice,” Daniels said. “They’ve matured into extremely confident young women. They started out very eager to learn and were very hard working.”

Standish-Sterling FFA State Convention results:

Parliamentary Procedure: 1st place

Junior High Conduct of meetings: 12th place

Prepared Public Speaking (Cassie Roehm): 8th place

Greenhand Public Speaking (Katie Gulvas): 7th place

Extemporaneous Speaking (Matt Schmidt): 8th place

Greenhand Conduct of Meetings: 6th place

Demonstration: 7th place

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