Ag Issues team wins state, MHS FFA 2nd place overall


As has become tradition, Madisonville FFA has brought home another state championship.

The local chapter competed in six events at the FFA state contest at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville this past Friday through Saturday, Dec. 2-3. The team of Rebecca Lazenby, Conley Sims, Kaleb Drake, Sarah Bankhead, Tommy Joe Ozio, Jessica Terry and Savannah Chestnut beat out 20 other schools in the agricultural issues event to take home a state title for Madisonville. The school was also runner-up for the sweepstakes award that recognizes a school’s overall performance throughout all competitions at state.

Madisonville High School teacher and FFA chapter adviser Lynita Foster, who has taken kids from Madisonville for many years, got in some extra practice with several of her students early Friday morning for this year’s contest.

Foster pointed out that the idea of extra practice was that of her competitors, who wanted to do the best they could possibly do to represent their school.

“These students have worked really, really hard,” Foster said.

Most competitions in the state championships took place throughout the two-day event, with semifinals Friday and finals Saturday. Foster waited with her students inside Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum at SHSU during the semifinalist award ceremony Friday night. Ironically, competitors from each school were hoping not to hear their chapter’s name and receive a plaque, since not being mentioned Friday night would mean moving on to the finals.

“We had three teams that were in the top five in the state,” Foster said. “To have those kinds of performances and that kind of ranking is a blessing and is a real credit to our kids and our school.”

The ag issues team got to where they are after placing first at district and area levels earlier this year.

“It was really, really nerve-wracking,” Bankhead said. “We were blessed to have a stellar performance and questions were really good. We know a lot about groundwater.”

Although it was Bankhead’s second time at the FFA state contest, there were several Madisonville students who made their first trip to the big event.

“I was just so proud that we even made it to state because I’ve never been that far before in anything,” Terry said.

The Madisonville ag issues team’s next step will the national contest in Indianapolis in October 2012.

In other state events, Madisonville’s senior chapter conducting team – comprising of Rebecca Lazenby, Miguel Astello, Ashley Smith, Hannah Shirley, Andrianna Culbreth, Cody Culp, Ross Singletary and Anna Bailey – placed third after getting first at both district and area. Despite no state title in their particular event this year, the team members eagerly await next season.

“We weren’t as confident as we hoped to be,” Shirley said, “but we know getting third in state is an honor, and now that we get to come back next year and hopefully do even better is great.”

After getting second place at district and area in the public relations competition, Madisonville finished third in the same event at the state level. Members of Madisonville’s public relations team are Payton Lindsey, Kelsey McDougald, Shelby Arnold. Bryan Upchurch, who also placed in the top 20 at the state senior creed competition, also performed in public relations.

“As a senior, I feel like that was going out with a bang,” Upchurch said.

Logan Mizell proved to be one of the state's best in preparing for getting a new job by virtue of making the top 20 in the state in the job interview competition. The Madisonville FFA'er won second at area and second at district before finishing up the year in the state semifinals.

Freshmen Olivia Grooms, Maribel Sanchez, Matthew Viggers, Cole Allen and Zulema Parga competed in the one-day junior quiz division on Saturday after placing first at district and area. The Madisonville group finished 11th in the final standings.

 “Our whole community was behind all of these performances,” Foster added, “and we received a lot of help where we feel like we need to say thank you to a lot of people in our town for that.”