Sisters' skills lead to FFA honors SOUTHWEST -- Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

November 20, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Topping off a year filled with 4-H and FFA awards, Kelly and Tracy Clagett traveled to the Future Farmers of America's national convention in Kansas City last week -- one to compete for the club's highest honor and the other to sing with the FFA national chorus.

"This has been a year we don't expect to see the likes of again," said their mother, Sherry, pointing to the awards filling the family's Taylorsville living room.

Tracy arrived in Kansas City on Saturday, three days before her sister, for the grueling practices with the FFA chorus. The group sang from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next day for four days straight, she said.

"We would practice until it was time to eat, eat and then practice again until we slept," said the 16-year-old.

But the South Carroll High School junior, who sang with the chorus last year, was used to the schedule. As a returning chorus member, she earned the title National Chorus Leader and was elected music and financial manager for the week.

"It was a great honor," she said.

Her responsibilities included taking care of about 2,000 pieces of music, collecting registration from members and selling performance tapes.

-! "It was a very hard job," she

said. "The last night I was there for four hours after everyone left, collecting music, separating it into piles and counting it."

When the group finally performed, it was at a banquet for 700 people. They opened for the Kentucky Headhunters the next night before a crowd of 24,000 on the first night of the convention.

"It was like one big party," Tracy said. "Everyone was singing and dancing around in the aisles."

By the end of the week, the chorus had performed 20 selections from memory at the convention sessions.

"That was the most fun part, the performances," Tracy said.

The fact that she was chosen as one of the chorus's 90 participants for the second year was a great achievement, she said.

Applications for returning members are placed at the bottom of the pile each year, giving voices new to the choir a better chance of getting in.

This year, only 26 returnees were chosen out of 300 who applied, she said.

"Just making the chorus is the biggest accomplishment anyone could make," said Tracy, who hopes to pursue a double major of music performance and music education at the Peabody Conservatory after she graduates from high school.

She sings with South Carroll High's Madrigals, the ladies ensemble and the chorus; is the soloist for South Carroll High's jazz ensemble and plays violin with the orchestra.

For Tracy, having made more friends than she did last year is a personal achievement.

"Last year, I was really shy and only made friends with my roommates," she said. "This year, I know I had about 50 friends, but I got to know all 90 people."

Meanwhile Kelly, who is 20, arrived on the Tuesday to compete for one of the club's highest honors -- the American Royal Ambassador program.

As the representative from Maryland and one of 16 young women from across the country, she participated in a 20-minute interview, answered a question drawn from a fishbowl during breakfast and mingled with the judges before the awards dinner.

Sixteen young men, also aged from 19 to 21 years, competed for the male ambassador title.

Each of the 32 competitors received a $250 scholarship for participating.

"I was not fortunate enough to be one of the top five," Kelly said. "But all the candidates were of such high caliber that I don't feel I failed.

"This was the conclusion of years and years of work, and I can't say I feel upset in any way," she said.

For the Carroll Community College special-education major, meeting and mingling with her competition made the trip worthwhile.

"This is one of the best experiences I've had in my life," she said. "I couldn't have met a nicer set of people from the staff down to the sponsors."

In addition to working with the FFA program for five years and serving as reporter for the state of Maryland, Kelly had been a member of 4-H for 10 years.

She and her sister also have a small meat business, raising up to 10 Simental cattle and 12 market hogs on their parents' 6-acre farmette.

"Everything I've done, I've done to promote agriculture," Kelly said. "I hope that I have helped the agricultural community in the state of Maryland."

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