GREENWOOD VILLAGE – Hosted by the Colorado High School Activities Association for the second consecutive year, the National Federation of State High School Associations Performing Arts Conference wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon at the Sheraton Tech Center.
The annual three-day conference is a professional development event at which performing arts administrators from state associations like CHSAA, as well as other prominent members of the national high school performing arts community, gather to exchange ideas and discuss pertinent 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 to date.
“The last several years, we’ve been trying to ramp up 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 total people that attended between speech and debate, theater and music. This year, we had 102. We’ve slowly grown that over the course of time and have gotten more states engaged, more national organizations engaged. We have over 40 states represented here, so we’ve really moved that bar quite a bit by engaging some of our new affiliate members and also engaging other national associations.
“All 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, NFHS Music Committee Chair, was impressed and energized by the engagement, as well as the scope and diversity of ideas on display at this year’s meeting of the performing arts minds.
“I’ve been involved for about seven years at this conference, and three setting up the music side of the Performing Arts Conference,” Manteuffel said. “Each year, it’s grown. It’s just an amazing conference. We have national leaders from everywhere, from all states. For music, we had 67 representing this year. When I first started in 2015-16, we probably had about 15 or something like that.
“We have MEA (Music Educators Association) folks here, we have state association people here, and it’s just great to have folks getting together and discussing the current topics that we need to solve in a lot of aspects. This is the best professional development that I can have throughout the entire year as a state association administrator. It’s absolutely a wonderful three days of learning.”
Session topics this year included Educating Administrators on the Values & Genuine Needs of Speech and Debate Programs, How Does a Community Standard in Theater Work in 2022 and Beyond, Rebuilding Motivation in Coaches and Students, A Full-on Copyright Review, State of Performing Arts in the NFHS, Teacher Shortage and Opportunities it Can Create, How to Grow Amazing Adjudicators, and many others.
On Tuesday, keynote speaker Jon Oglesby, Assistant Director at the Utah High School Activities Association, spoke about shaking up the way people work, the relationships they have and the way they connect with others.
Overall, it was yet another successful three days for what figures to be an increasingly constructive event moving forward.
“To have the NFHS Performing Arts Conference in Colorado is a win for music educators and state executives across the country,” CHSAA assistant commissioner Rashaan Davis said. “With all the fun activities happening in our state and the ease of navigating Denver International Airport, Colorado is a destination location and an ideal place to host speech and debate, theater, and music educators. Thank you to everyone who attended this year, we look forward to Colorado hosting this event again in the near future.”