After a successful showing by Pioneer Valley High School at the FFA sectional public speaking competition, 18 students will continue on to the regional competition in March.
With 32 students competing, Pioneer Valley earned the most regional speaking qualifiers among local schools in the section, which includes Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Righetti, Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, and Cuyama high schools.
The competition was held recently at Arroyo Grande High School, with categories including job interviews, impromptu, prepared public speaking, extemporaneous public speaking and creed.
Judges at the sectional competition noted that "Pioneer Valley FFA came to win," according to a Santa Maria Joint Union High School District spokesman.
Seniors Paola Zarate and Nick Vasquez were regional qualifiers in the job interview competition, with Zarate taking home the title of sectional champion and Vasquez as runner-up.
Sophomore Elizabeth Beebe was sectional champion of the impromptu competition and was one of four individuals to move on to the regional competition in the category.
Pioneer Valley also took first-, second-, third-, fifth- and sixth-place spots in the prepared public speaking competition, with senior Miguel Perez being named sectional champion.
Seniors Sergio Segura and Marissa Arias were named regional champion and runner-up, respectively, for extemporaneous public speaking.
Freshmen Mia Diaz and Vanessa Legaspi were second and third runner-up, respectively, in the creed competition and also are regional qualifiers.
The FFA adviser for Pioneer Valley is agriculture teacher Gabriel Ponce.
The FFA Central Region Speech Competition will take place March 27, with the state finals set for April 22.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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