By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Shortly after lunch Thursday the Albion Central School District opened its buildings’ doors to over 1,000 students from across the state for the 88th Annual New York FFA Convention.
The even lasts until Saturday evening.
Barry Flansburg, Albion FFA Alumni President, said the organization helps teach confidence to youths. That confidence can be exhibited in a number of ways, he said, such as public speaking, business management, and mechanics to name a few.
The convention’s regional nature and its return to Albion for the first time since 2007 creates a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
“All of us who worked on it in ‘07 worked on it again this year,” he said. “And seeing all the kids here is a great thing because they all have something in common.”
Flansburg said students in FFA who go on to college or a job often meet other FFA members and “share a connection right off the bat.”
Two such students — Paige Levandowski and Amanda Rhodes — were on hand for Thursday’s opening ceremonies. The two met about a year ago at last year’s convention, and now, Rhodes said, “We’re best friends.”
Both are freshmen at SUNY Morrisville. Rhodes, the outgoing New York FFA President, and Levandowski, the outgoing Vice President, agreed that it was “exciting” to see all their peers have accomplished in the past year.
“It’s very reflective, too,” said Levandowski, a 2012 Albion graduate. “We get a chance to catch up with a lot of people we know.”
Rhodes, a 2012 graduate of Belleville-Henderson (north of Syracuse), said coming back to the convention reminded her of the bonds it can form.
“You can make bonds with people here at FFA that last forever,” she said.
Rhodes noted how her freshman year has been anything but ordinary with multiple FFA-related trips.
“I’ve had maybe two full weeks of school, but most of my professors have been pretty understanding,” she said.
This weekend’s trip is among the most meaningful, she added.
“We’re not only see our fellow students, but our advisors, also. And we’re giving out awards, too, and seeing each other succeed is just the best feeling,” she said.
“This is like a big extended family reunion that celebrates all of the past year’s hard work,” he said. “People don’t realize just how many good kids there are out there.”