School board recognizes local FFA and science olympiad teams

At their monthly meeting on May 14, the Okeechobee County School Board recognized and congratulated a number of students involved with the Future Farmers of America and science olympiad teams in elementary schools across the district.

In fact, there were so many students scheduled to be honored that the meeting, which is normally held in the school board meeting room, was moved to Okeechobee Freshman Campus auditorium instead.

Overall the school board handed out 138 recognitions at the meeting.

First to be recognized were students who competed in the science fairs this year. Okeechobee had nine students go on to compete in the State Science Fair held in Lakeland earlier this year. They are Kara Hawk, Lauren Sills, Conner Rucks, John Williamson II, Chloe Soriano, Alize Merchant, Lauren Raulerson, Abagail Holcomb and Rylann Maxwell.

The State Science Fair is the largest academic competition in the state of Florida and this year included over 850 projects. Of those, only 200 to 300 are selected. Abagail Holcomb from Yearling Middle School received a second-place award in the category of earth and environmental sciences while John Williamson from Yearling Middle School received a third-place award in the category of animal sciences.

Williamson also earned top honors at the 2018 National FFA Convention & Expo held in Indianapolis. John earned the title of national champion at the Agriscience Fair in Animal Systems Division 1.

Buddy Mills, agriculture teachers at Yearling Middle School, spoke to the school board about John’s accomplishment.

“I don’t know if his mother cried more or if I did when John won,” said Mr. Mills. “John’s field of competition was amazing. Those projects will really blow your mind.”

Abagail Holcomb earned reserve national champion honors for her project in environment services and natural resource systems Division 1 in the same event.

Yearling also had five FFA teams recognized by the school board — Dairy Judging, Citrus Judging, Meat Judging, Tool Judging and Poultry Judging.

The School Board recognized several elementary schools who competed in the science olympiad this year. Students from Central, Seminole and North Elementary traveled to Orlando to compete in the olympiad. This marks only the second year that Okeechobee students have participated in the olympiad, which features teams of up to 15 students who compete in 23 different events. The events cut across the scientific disciplines including earth & space science, engineering, biology, chemistry and physics. Students who competed in that event received awards from the school board.

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