High Tech Environmental Students Compete and Win at Virtual Convention

(Secaucus, NJ––May 27, 2020) Students from the Academy of Environmental Science and Sustainability at High Tech High School recently participated in the virtual State FFA Convention, taking home first and second place in two events, announced Dr. Joseph A. Giammarella, Principal at High Tech High School.

As part of the National FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) Organization, the New Jersey State FFA hosts an annual convention to showcase the knowledge of FFA Chapter members throughout the state. Convention events are designed to demonstrate a variety of leadership and career-oriented skills and knowledge. Taking to the digital realm in response to the COVID-19 related school closures, the 2020 FFA Convention saw students presenting arguments and conducting interviews with judges through virtual meetings; other events asked students to record their work in advance. At the May 20–22 event, High Tech’s FFA Chapter was represented by four members: Sophia Benavente-Sayani (HTHS ‘23), Alessandra Blount (‘22), Reilley Peck (‘22), and Ivonne Ovalles (‘20).

Sophomores Reilley Peck (who also serves as FFA Chapter Sentinel) and her partner Alessandra Blount took home first place for their video demonstrating the importance of hydroponics in an urban environment in the Team Demonstration Event. Senior Ivonne Ovalles (who also serves as FFA Chapter Historian) took home second place in the Employment Skills Event for her work creating a resume and cover letter which earned her the chance to participate in a rigorous 15-minute long professional interview ultimately earning her silver award. Freshman Sophia Benavente-Sayani cut her teeth at the convention by presenting an eight-minute speech on the topic of Algae as Biofuel to the judges; she placed 4th out of 7 contestants.

High Tech’s FFA Chapter Advisor, Ms. Cathy Yuhas, applauded her students’ participation and success: “I’m really proud of these students for going above and beyond and taking the opportunity to compete in the virtual convention during this time. Great work everyone!”

FFA is an agricultural education organization with chapters throughout the United States. With a history going back as far as the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act, the FFA hosts numerous events and conventions throughout the year, all with the general aim of promoting the skills, attitudes, and knowledge to cultivate leaders in the wide-ranging field of agriculture.

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