COLUMBIA CITY — Selected from a pool of more than 250 applications, Whitko High School senior Tiffany Schuman, 18, was chosen as the only Indiana student to take the stage at the 85th National FFA Convention and Expo, using her soprano voice to sing as a National FFA Chorus member. Approximately 55,000 FFA members and guests attend the convention each year as they come together “to learn about careers in the agriculture industry, compete for scholarships, volunteer in the community and shape the future of the National FFA Organization.”
“I think it was mainly the people who made it so exciting to be in the choir,” said Schuman. “They were more passionate about being in the choir, which made me more passionate and made the music better. Everybody wanted to be there, everybody wanted to participate and everybody wanted to meet each other.”
With the help of her Whitko High School choral director, Dawn Hinthorn, Schuman made an audition tape, and she was notified nearly a month before the convention of her acceptance and provided with instructions on what the group would be singing.
“They sent out an email with all the songs so I could print them off,” said Schuman. “They expected it to be memorized by the time I got down there.”
Schuman headed down to Indianapolis for practice Oct. 20, where the convention was held. Arriving nearly a week early, she practiced for three days prior to the convention.
Schuman sang in several convention sessions. The sessions featured musical performances and informational speakers who spoke about the convention’s theme “Grow.”
“I think there was a different energy because the audience will clap with you, but you have to be sure to keep looking at the director,” said Schuman.
Schuman said she would normally sing at one session a day, sometimes at two, singing songs like “America the Beautiful”, “Unstoppable” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “We also sang a states melody song, which was neat because the audience was really into that,” said Schuman.
Schuman also sang at the Indianapolis City Market for shoppers as well as at the Arts Garden, off of the Circle Center Mall and at a banquet.
“There were 87 of us in the choir, all students like me,” said Schuman.
“I had a room mate from Colorado, South Dakota and Oregon,” said Schuman. “There was a girl from Puerto Rico who stood next to me, and I was able to speak Spanish to her.”
Schuman also had the opportunity to meet Scott Hamilton, an American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist.
“He was a keynote speaker for our first session,” said Schuman. “He talked about his battle with cancer and how having a positive attitude has a lot to do with who you are and how things turn out for you.”
After attending the Indiana State FFA Chorus, last summer and the summer before Schuman said the experience was emotional.
“You can only be in the national choir for two years, and probably about half of the choir were alumni,” said Schuman. “We were all talking about how we wanted to go back again next year.”
Schuman plans to attend college next year to pursue business and Spanish, joining an available choir program if possible.