Middle school places in national competition

Signal Knob Middle School’s FFA chapter placed in the top five during competition for Outstanding Middle School FFA Chapter in a national competition held in Louisville, Kentucky, recently.

Jaclyn Ryan, agriculture education teacher and the sponsor of the school’s FFA chapter, said the chapter advanced to the national competition after winning awards at the state level.

Ryan said she had her “fingers crossed” during the waiting period between winning at the state level and then on to the nationals in Kentucky. Two years ago, the school won the top award – Most Outstanding FFA Chapter in America – in national competition.

At the state level, the chapter received these awards:

  • Superior Chapter Award, gold rating
  • National Chapter Award, gold rating, named among the top 10 percent of chapters in the Virginia Association
  • Community Development Award, northern area and state winner
  • Top Middle School Chapter in the Northern Area

While in Louisville, Ryan said the students attending the competition participated in seminars with motivational speakers, career shows and leadership workshops.

“I never get through all of it,” Ryan said. “It was a pretty busy week.”

For some fun, Ryan said the students went to a Jake Owen and Maddie & Tae concert.

This is Ryan’s ninth year at Signal Knob, but the FFA program has been around since the school was built, about 25 years, she said.

The field trip came at a time when the school division has frozen some expenses due to a possible loss in state funding as a result of a drop in enrollment.

Cynthia Page, the division’s director of finance, said the majority of funds to support the FFA field trip were covered through Perkins Federal Funds and are reimbursed to the locality. Page said they must be spent in order to get reimbursed.

“The total cost for our eight teachers to attend this convention with 43 students is $12,076. Of this amount, $6,824 is covered by Perkins Federal Funds, $1,409 by Central High School’s FFA chapter, and the rest by the school division,” Page said.

The school is able to receive the Perkins Federal Funds because the school division has career and technical education student organizations, Page said.

Other field trips taken by students are now being funded by students.

“Students pay their own way through a combination of fundraising with the organization and some costs paid by students’ families. Many non-refundable fees and arrangements were made by families and schools prior to the freeze,” Page said.

“The school division is going to pay the cost of transportation to competitions for students participating in extracurricular and cocurricular events,” Page added, but “will not be paying the cost of transportation to events that are non-competitive.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com