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AHS junior participates in National FFA Convention chorus 

Gillian Umphenour, front, with some of her new friends at the National FFA Convention in Kentucky.

Gillian Umphenour, front, with some of her new friends at the National FFA Convention in Kentucky.

–Gillian Umphenour, a junior who is dually enrolled at Atascadero High School and independent studies, participated in the 88th annual National FFA Convention‘s chorus this past week in Kentucky.

“It was a blast,” Umphenour said. “I was the only person from my chapter to audition and make it I from AHS and I am the first person to even audition and make it in from our chapter… The audition was super tough. After lots of paper work and a video I sent in. It was probably the scariest audition I have ever done.”

Additionally, she was the only one from her chapter to go to the convention. It was her first national convention, though she has been to one state convention, where she was part of the state FFA choir. She was the second student from the high school to participate in the state choir and talent show.

“I honestly was not going to audition,” Umphenour said, “due to the fact that I did not think I could make it in. My advisor, Kyle Dadson and my past chapter encouraged me to at least try out. I thought it would be a great experience. … FFA has changed my life. I was so nervous to go, but I am glad I did probably one of the best experiences in my life. Up on the stage was scary enough being in front of 65,000 people. Then add the factor that it was on national TV and tons of people at home watching that was nerve-racking.”

Umphenour’s mother, Jaime, said that she submitted audition videos in June and found out in early August that she had been accepted to the choir.

Umphenour has been taking vocal lessons for the last three years, and while she used to be involved with her school’s choral department, she no longer is. Currently, she is a part of First Baptist Church’s adult Exalt choir.

She is in her third year in Atascadero FFA and her seventh with Templeton 4-H Club, for which she has recently been elected president. In FFA, Jaime said, Umphenour shows cattle and swine with 4-H.

“One of the cool things that happened [at national convention] was her meeting of The Incredible Dr. Pol and his wife,” Jaime said. “The Incredible Dr. Pol” is a reality TV show that follows veterinarian Jan Pol and his family and employees in rural Michigan.

The National FFA Band and Chorus opened the convention on Oct. 28. The band consisted of 90 FFA members from 33 states and the chorus had 84 members from 36 states.

“These members have gone through a lengthy selection process,” National FFA Band Assistant Director Dale Latva said. “They were chosen to be here because they were outstanding FFA members, strong students in their respective schools and fantastic performers.”

Umphenour returned Sunday from the convention, excited from her experience.

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