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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaugs Scott Meyer, left, was honored as the recipient of the 2024 Michael H. Savage Spirit of Sport Award at the CAS-CIAC Scholar Athlete Banquet on May 5 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. (Courtesy of the CIAC)
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Nonnewaug boys soccer coach Toby Denman, left, and assistant coach Josh Kornblut address the team after a game last season. Denman says hes tried to learn how to be an effective coach by observing the ones hes played for and coached with. (Kyle Brennan)
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Nonnewaugs Ellie McDonald dribbles the ball during a game last season. McDonalds nickname is Smellie -- one of many Chief names that exist on the girls soccer team. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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Kyle Viveros is ready on his toes, awaiting the ball. Viveros and Landon Parks took home the BL doubles title. (Courtesy of Sophia Cenatiempo)
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Deme Jones looks at students orphan portraits at Nonnewaug’s art show on June 6.
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The memorial for Chester Carruthers. (Courtesy of Find-a-Grave)
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Nonnewaug girls tennis seniors, from left, Maggie Keane, Skylar Chung, Maylan Hardisty, Kiley Stampp, Sam Duncan pose on their senior night. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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Nonnewaug freshmen discuss their worries about the testing, including potential AP exams, they have to take next year.
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Finding a Family Within the FFA Makes a Banquet Sentimental

As the jackets get hung on the chairs, allowing for a new officer team to step up to the podium, and lead the chapter into the following year, signifying a new beginning. The new chapter team for 2024-2025: Abigail Diezel (Parliamentarian), Isabelle Longely (Historian), Nathen Berry (Sentinel), Connor Cabeleria (Reporter), Christa Freel (Treasurer), Merije Iljazi (Secretary), Mia Layseca (Vice President), and Luciano Pedros (President). (Courtesy of Tawny Syrotiak)

WOODBURY — Life is full of moments, moments that stand out and frame you into who you become. One of the very special moments that many FFA members hold in their hearts is the annual Woodbury FFA Banquet. 

This year’s banquet will be held May 23 at the Grand Oak Villa in Watertown.

“The banquet is special because it is that time of the year where we can honor every single student and get recognized for the work for what they do,” Kathleen Gorman, the agriculture production instructor, said. “So many people work so hard during the year and the banquet is a time where we can recognize what we have and the work that was done during the year.” 

The Woodbury FFA is especially proud of their banquet and how it impacts the community and its members. It is one of the most important events that happen during the school year that allows for not just people getting awards but all members of the Woodbury FFA to go. No matter how young or old they are, everyone is welcome.  

Emotions will be high as the graduating class is moving on leaving the following years to live up to all they can be. Class of ‘23 members Ryan Wickland, Joseph Velky III, and Casey Watson, break out into a hugging circle remembering all the hard work they went through and that this may be one of the last moments they will share before moving on to the next chapter life has to offer them. (Courtesy of Tawny Syrotiak)

“The banquet started over 100 years ago and it was really popular in the ’70s and ’80s,” Gorman said. “Every FFA chapter has a banquet, [but] ours is so special because no two banquets are the same. Everything is formed in how it reflects the chapter. Now we invite as many kids as possible. It has always been staple and very important to us because we recognize so many kids.” 

Once a student becomes a member of the FFA, they are a member for life. They often pursue a career involving the FFA along with continuing their FFA career by striving to achieve American degrees, a designation given to only a small handful of members nationally each year, and moving to higher positions such at the state or national level. The banquet is not just for high school students; members of all ages can come and enjoy the banquet. 

“I have attended it as a student, a member, and now a teacher,” Jesse Hungerford, a veterinary science teacher and FFA alumna, said. “It is a humbling event where all programs are recognized for all their hard work and dedication. It is the program’s opportunity to showcase all community members and students. As a student it was always nerve wracking not knowing what you are getting awarded for and also exciting. Now as a teacher, it is nerve-racking being able to capture the moments and tell how much students impacted the FFA.”

Officers go to agriculture classrooms and advertise the banquet tickets the week prior to make sure that as many students that want to attend the banquet, have as much opportunity to get the tickets as possible. 

“There is a lot of preparation that goes into the banquet because it is a really big event,” Samantha Kostka, the Woodbury FFA president, said. “There are around 300 spots in the venue and almost every year all those spots are taken. The preparation involves reserving the venue date, invitations, teachers have to make decisions on what students will be receiving what awards and then there is the actual ordering of the awards.”

The banquet is not just an event that shows what is accomplished but is an event that puts the incoming officers in session and the old ones to retire. The evening signifies a new chapter within the chapter. 

“What stands out to me the most about the banquet is the bittersweet moment that is brought with it,” Tom DiMarco, the landscaping instructor, said. “Seeing the new officers come in and so excited for the year to come while the old officers feeling upset about the fact that it may be the last time they wear the FFA jacket — it is just such a heartfelt event.” 

The officers for the Woodbury FFA spend weeks prior to the banquet working hard on creating the event and making it possible for the members of the FFA along with alumni and family members to be able to come and enjoy the memorable night. 

“The banquet is a really important event for our retiring and incoming officers, along with any students being honored,” Kyleigh Paige, the Woodbury FFA vice president, said. “It’s something that we have to plan and work on for months to make sure it’s gonna be great. We have to prepare a script and speeches, which is mostly taken care of by our banquet organizer, Ms. Gorman.” 

When students get elected to become an officer, they join a family. They work together all year and form bonds that will last a lifetime. Even after they retire, they will always be FFA members. 

“The banquet is gonna be really hard for me to let go of a position that I love so much,” Paige said. “But it’ll be so nice to get recognized as such, and get to move in our new team.”

About the Contributor
Zosia Olejniczak '24
Zosia Olejniczak is a senior at Nonnewaug and a first-year journalist for NHS Chief Advocate. With her passion being animals, she is in the veterinary program and on the vet CDE. Her dream is to become an orthopedic veterinarian and to major in pre-vet when she goes off to college. Zosia is very involved with the FFA and became a Woodbury FFA chapter sentinel in hopes to grow her social skills. She loves her newest member of the family, Daisy the goldendoodle, more than anything and hopes to take her with her to college. Zosia plans on writing about the voices that feel that they may have been silenced and bring awareness to unique situations.
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