Texas FFA will be addressing multiple convention concerns with schedule revisions, which may significantly alter some travel plans and lodging reservations for parents and other interested parties. Issues to be addressed:
1. The state constitution requires that student delegates approve state degrees.
2. Stars Night has been sparsely attended resulting in recognition of some of the state's top students in a nearly empty arena.
3. Having a Wednesday session anchored by a keynote speaker creates a congestion problem at lunch.
With these issues in mind, Texas FFA will be implementing a convention schedule, which includes the following:
An official opening session is set for Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. with a 4:00 p.m. adjournment. The opening session will include elements of the traditional vespers program, a dynamic keynote speaker and a great deal more production. The 4:00 p.m. adjournment will allow students to change clothes and attend the rodeo finals at 5:00 p.m. and the kick-off concert, which will be moved from 9:00 p.m. up to 8:00 p.m. This also allows for focused prep time/sound check time for the artist and production team.
The second general session will include a keynote speaker and the delegate business session. This schedule placement allows the delegates to act on the state degree candidates, diffuses the post-session egress to the lunch area and shortens the Thursday afternoon session by allowing more time between the end of that session and fun night. Speaking awards will be presented on Wednesday morning, shortening the time between speaking finals and announcement of finals results. Currently, students, teachers and parents wait from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday night to get the results of those competitions.
Star and proficiency awards will be presented on Wednesday night in the beginning of the session. Typically, the aggregate presentation time of these two award categories has been about 15 minutes, and this arrangement ensures a full house for the recognition of some of the state's top achievers. The presentation of the star awards will be followed by the Lone Star Degree ceremony and presentation of degrees. To keep the degree presentation from running late into the night, it will be important for teachers not to insert stand-ins to pick up certificates for absentee recipients. Currently, an estimated 20-25% of all students crossing the stage are stand-ins, tying up the photographer taking pictures that no one will purchase, unnecessarily sending students across the stage, an experience that has little significance to them, since they did not earn the degree and adding nearly an hour to the presentation.
Also related to convention…
Texas FFA is having ongoing conversations with the Texas Music Educators Association concerning strategies to strengthen recruitment for the chorus. Texas FFA is also examining the convention experience for other student volunteer groups who, along with the chorus, make important contributions to the convention experience: Courtesy Corps, Foundation Ambassadors and Convention Chronicle.
Texas FFA hope to have traffic flow issues surrounding the food court resolved and provide shuttle services for those who must park in lots distant from the main venue, in an attempt to keep teachers from trudging from Whataburger Field to the American Bank Center in tropical heat and humidity.
Texas FFA is also studying technology solutions which may expedite delegate sign-in and create permanent, accessible documentation of student participation in the delegate process.