Board celebrates Portales floriculture team
November 13, 2019
PORTALES — The Portales school board on Monday briefly celebrated a team that learned to grow flowers, and ended up with some personal and professional growth in the process.
The board congratulated Portales High’s floriculture team on its silver rating at the recent Future Farmers of American national convention and expo.
The team — composed of Abi Cameron, Alyssa McAlister, Emily Newberry and Rylie Courtney — returned last week from the convention, held Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Indianapolis. It qualified for the event by winning the state-level competition last spring. Floriculture is a discipline of agriculture focused on flowers and ornamental plants.
Jerry Faver, an ag teacher at PHS and the school’s FFA advisor, said there was plenty to do and see at the convention, and the floriculture team did well with a gold rating, two silvers and a bronze between the four team members and an overall silver rating. Cameron had the gold rating, and finished 17th individually.
The team did not attend the meeting, which Faver said was a combination of one being sick, one being out of town and two others delivering items to fundraiser customers.
Cameron, contacted Tuesday morning, said she felt she could have placed higher with more preparation, but was thrilled with the place she did earn and the entire experience.
“It was incredible,” Cameron said. “I’ve never seen so many FFA members in one place. There was a point where they said more than 67,000 members and guests signed up. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience with so many people, and everybody was someone I had something in common with.”
Faver said the convention was an experience for him as well.
“I can now drive a 12-passenger van in a city of 1 million,” Faver said with a laugh, “as well as how to use an Uber.”
The board also approved design renderings for a planned renovation of Brown Early Childhood Center. The renovation is part of an overall $6 million project. For the specific piece the board approved, Superintendent Johnnie Cain said the costs were $4.344 million with the Public Schools Finance Authority covering around $3 million.
Owen Kramme, a project manager for Albuquerque-based Formative Architecture, took the board through renovations that brought the BECC building from eight classrooms to 11 by moving small features into the hallways and retooling ancillary rooms like the library, computer lab and administrative offices.
The nine-month construction is expected to begin sometime in the summer, with the project going in phases so portions of the building will still be accessible for instruction during the work period.
Kramme said the building has a solid foundation and roof, and not much would be done in those regards.
“We hope it extends the life of the facility for another 50 years,” Kramme said. “It should definitely have a lot more useful life in it.”
In other business:
• Cain noted the state made the ACT the official required test for high school juniors. He had alluded to the plans during the board’s October meeting, and again noted he likes the change because the test helps in the college application process.
• Cain congratulated school board members on their re-elections, all uncontested, and noted voters approved a mill levy that would provide around $400,000 for the school.
“It can be used for other things,” Cain said, “but I think it needs to go for technology. That’s how I advertised it.”
The mill increase will be phased in over three years to eventually replace a current technology bond. The advantage, Cain said, is the school gets the money without having to take on bond payment interest.
• The PHS student council gave a brief report, noting a successful Halloween candy-gram fundraiser it planned to replicate for Christmas and Valentine’s Day and plans to attend a state student council conference at Eldorado High School.
• Cain noted about 20 students showed up to an initial presentation on e-sports, and figured interest would grow. Cain said the program could be a good thing to capture kids who haven’t been interested in traditional extracurricular activities.
• The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 9.