GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Hosted by the Colorado High School Activities Association for the second year in a row, the National Federation of State High School Associations Performing Arts Conference wrapped up Wednesday afternoon at the Sheraton Tech Center.
The annual three-day conference is a professional development event where performing arts administrators from state associations like CHSAA, along with other prominent members of the national high school performing arts community, meet come together to exchange ideas and discuss relevant issues surrounding speech and debate, theater and music.
As the event continues to grow, this year’s NFHS Performing Arts conference was the largest and richest yet.
“Over the past few years, we’ve tried to increase the quality and impact of the conference,” said James Weaver, director of performing arts and sports at the NFHS. “My first year in 2016 we had 38 people in total who attended between speech and debate, theater and music. This year we had 102. We have slowly increased that number over time and have engaged more states, more national organizations We have over 40 states represented here, so we’ve really moved the bar a bit by engaging some of our new affiliate members and engaging other national associations as well.
“All of these people are here because they know the importance of interacting with their state association administrators.”
Among the national performing arts associations represented at this year’s conference were the American String Teachers Association, the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education.
Craig Manteuffel, Chair of the NFHS Music Committee, was impressed and energized by the engagement, as well as the scope and diversity of ideas presented at this year’s meeting of performing arts minds.
“I was involved for about seven years in this conference, and three years in setting up the musical component of the Performing Arts Conference,” said Manteuffel. “Every year it gets bigger. It’s just an amazing conference. We have national leaders from everywhere, from every state. For music, we had 67 representatives this year. When I started in 2015-16, we probably had about 15 or something.
“We have people from the MEA (Music Educators Association) here, we have people from state associations here, and it’s just great to have people coming together and discussing hot topics that we need to solve in many aspects. This is the best professional development I can have throughout the year as a state association administrator. It’s absolutely three wonderful learning days.
Topics for this year’s sessions included educating administrators on the authentic values and needs of speech and debate programs, how a community standard works in theater in 2022 and beyond, rebuilding coach motivation and students, a comprehensive copyright review, the state of the performing arts in the NFHS, Teacher Shortage and Opportunities it Can Create, How to Grow Amazing Adjudicators, and many more.
On Tuesday, keynote speaker Jon Oglesby, deputy principal of the Utah High School Activities Association, spoke about disrupting the way people work, the relationships they have, and the way they connect with others.
All in all, it was another three successful days for what looks to be an increasingly constructive event for the future.
“Having the NFHS Performing Arts Conference in Colorado is a win for music educators and state executives across the country,” said CHSAA Deputy Commissioner Rashaan Davis. “With all the fun activities happening in our state and the easy navigation of Denver International Airport, Colorado is a destination location and a great place to host speeches and debates, theater and teachers of music. Thank you to everyone who participated this year, we hope Colorado will host this event again in the near future.