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By Dontay Smithwick, DE

Returning to CONA can be an emotional experience. Hearing your name be called for the second, third, or maybe even fourth time can be exciting, or nerve-racking for some. Delegates who return to the Mountain know that they’ll continue working on an incomplete goal, meet more incredible and passionate people people, or maybe speak more than they did in previous years. Delegates and Presiding Officers alike are thrilled to be a part of the Blue Ridge Spirit once again.

Presiding Officer, Parker Bunton describes how he felt when learning that he would have the opportunity to serve as a PO, “I would definitely say last year when they called my name, it was very shocking. I didn’t think I was going to get it.” Bunton went on to say, “It’s a true honor to sit on the seat, but also I get to come back and definitely make a mark on the conference.” Through Bunton’s enthusiasm while speaking we can tell that this position and the mountain carry great meaning to him.

Colorado delegate Saxon Bryant had an extremely positive reaction to being chosen for CONA again. “When I found out I was going to CONA again I was really excited,” said the two time CONA attendee, “I really enjoyed my experience the first year and I was really happy to go back and share those same experiences with not only with some of the same delegates from my state, but some of my old friends from previous years and also reach out and meet new people. That’s what CONA is all about.” When asked if there is anything he’d do this year he did not do last year, Bryant began by saying that, “It’s kind of out of my control, but I’d like to have my proposal go farther because I really enjoy debating and speaking.” His second point was a self-resolution, “Something else I’d like to do is be a lot less critical of proposals I disagree with. I want to get away from that, because CONA shouldn’t be about this  attacking attitude towards the people or their proposals. These are all ideas that people are passionate about even if I disagree with them.”

Delaware Delegate Lasya Katta spoke about a moment during this year’s conference, “The first time I put my placard up, I had this feeling of excitement and of coming back home,” the three time CONA veteran said. She then took a trip down memory lane, thinking back to her first year. “My first year I was super nervous and I didn’t know what I wanted to say.” Katta spoke about her experience of speaking during CONA as a veteran, “The time I stood up and talked I knew I had the confidence because I’ve gone through this before.” Katta is an extremely confident delegate and she is delighted to be back on the mountain for her third year.

Returning to the mountain can make delegates feel many emotions, but by far the best is the pure joy of having the opportunity to experience the magic of Blue Ridge at least one more time. One of the most amazing things about CONA are these very emotions that can be brought  out in both delegates and Presiding Officers.