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Bear River FFA wins big

Eileen JoyceBear River freshman Shae Gippner (left) gets help from sophomore Kelsey Blagg and senior Ginger Thirlaway (right) as they work on an efficiency drill during their parliamentary procedure team practice Nov. 12.
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(The following is a first-hand account by the proud coach of a winning team. )

Bear River FFA’s Parliamentary Procedure Team beat 43 teams nationwide to capture the National Championship in their career development event for the second time in five years at the recently concluded 75th National FFA Convention.

Team members included Jennifer Arnall, president; Kevin Bell, secretary; Robert Harris; David Tritel; Carl Payne; Dustin Spence and Liz Guerra.



This was Bear River’s fourth trip representing California in the National Finals Parliamentary Procedure Event. Bear River’s 1998 squad last won the national title when the team competed in Kansas City, Mo.

The three-day event culminated with a 10-minute presentation on the finals stage before a packed house of 1,500 people. The Bear River team amassed a significant advantage by firing off the logical, compelling debates, incorporating interesting and appropriate analogies while tying in nicely to the topic at hand. All of the teams in the finals filled up each team member’s two motions and four debate boxes, so the quality of the debate became the paramount issue that spread the four teams.




The Bear River team performed extraordinarily well through its middle and final debates. All the other teams seemed to fade down the home-stretch, but the Bear River players seemed to be building up more and more steam as they shifted gears into a “top-this-analogy” mode.

President Arnall was brilliant and thorough as she stated back the motions and put the vote on the pending questions. She always kept the assembly informed of the parameters on the current motion, while at the same time being assertive and helpful. Arnall varied her tone, made excellent use of effective pauses, and was basically as smooth as silk through the entire run. Secretary Bell had to juggle the double burden of debating and note-taking. Yet he seemed to accomplish these challenging tasks with ease. His debates were compassionate and dynamic, while his minutes scored 48 out of 50 in both the semi-final and finals rounds.

Harris, Tritel, Payne and Spence each had moments of brilliance, and thought-provoking debates. The Bear River players simply had more quality, power of expression and enunciation than their competitors. Each debate had more substance and tie-in to the specific topic, which was to sell Christmas trees and wreaths as a fund-raiser.

Alternate Guerra was of tremendous assistance at the many structured practices and drills that the team engaged in for three days before the competition, as well as serving as an expert camera person.

Each team member received a $1,000 scholarship and plaque for their first-place finish. The team received two large plaques, a giant engraved perpetual gavel, and a copy of “Robert’s Rules of Order.”

The Bear River team members would like to thank their families, local booster organizations and school administration for allowing them this rewarding experience and the opportunity to bring the National Championship back to Nevada County.

Steve Paasch is coach of Bear River FFA’s Parliamentary Procedure Team


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