Jr. Beta Clubs bring home honors from state gathering

White County Jr. Beta Club students brought home some hardware last month after attending the Georgia Junior Beta Club convention in Savannah

The clubs at White County Middle School, Mossy Creek Elementary School and Tesnatee Gap Elementary School went to the convention, where students were able to participate in competitions. For MCES and T-Gap, it was their first time as a school attending the convention, but WCMS attended last year.

For White County Middle School, they had 38 out of 138 members attend the convention, where they participated in 28 different competitions, said the WCMS Jr. Beta Club sponsor Jack Fullerton. They were recognized for 10 percent attendance growth over the last year, won third place in campaign skit, and Brynn Howe took fourth place in seventh grade science.

“They were very excited,” Fullerton said. “That’s what I loved best about this experience of the kids. The ones that won, they shared that excitement with each other, and the ones that didn’t win, they shared that emotion with them. It was really great when our solo performance, Neely Webster sang for us, and when she came off stage all the kids ran to her and hugged her.”

Some of the competitions WCMS entered this year included technology, living literature, 2-D design, engineering, book battle, quiz bowl, the academic tests and more, Fullerton said.

“Last year was a learning experience, and this year we entered a few more competitions,” he said. “As the club grows and as we get more exposure, we’ll start participating in more competitions and hopefully bring more hardware back.”

For MCES, this was the first time the school took the students, but in 2016 they did send two students with their parents, said Deticia Chambers, the school’s Jr. Beta Club sponsor. They had 21 out of the 34 members attending. While there, they competed in as much as they could, including creative writing, and all four academics (language arts, math, science and social studies), she said.

Students took home the following awards: Allyssa Harkins won first place in elementary language arts; Zachary Godfrey took fourth place in elementary math academics; Cooper Adam took fifth place in math academics; Emma Grace Rogers took first place in painting; and eighth place in quiz bowl (Kimberly Salzar, Alex Freeman, Zachary Godfrey and Olivia Solmon), Chambers said. They also had students compete in visual arts, and took eighth place out of the 40 teams competing in the quiz bowl.

“I teared up, it was beautiful,” Chambers said about the students getting the awards. “It was super sweet, and I was on the phone with one of the parents there when we found out one of the students won first place and I was jumping up and down. It was exciting and I’m so proud of them.”

Chambers said they are definitely planning on attending next year, and plan on participating in even more competitions.

For T-Gap, the club decided to go at the last minute, and it was definitely a learning experience of all involved, said Jessica Ozbolt, one of the school sponsors. They had 13 students attend – one competed in the speech competition, four participated in the quiz bowl and 10 did the academic tests.

“This was more of a learning experience for them,” Ozbolt said. “Next year we plan on going again, so I told them to just look at what they have going on this year so next year we have a better idea of what to compete in.”

Because WCMS and MCES had students place in the top five in their competitions, they have earned automatic entry at the National Beta Club Convention, which will be held this summer in Oklahoma City. However, the sponsors for each club said they don’t know if they’ll be attending yet because the cost of the trip is a major factor. They said they are looking into ways of hopefully making it possible.

“If we can get them to the national convention, we definitely want to take them,” Fullerton said. “Whether it’s through community support or some sort of funding, if we can get them there, obviously I want them to be able to compete.”

Even though certain students earned spots, any student can attend the convention, and Chambers said they have two students who are going with their families as part of a family vacation.

WCMS was also named a National Beta Club School of Distinction, which means that the school has had at least a 10 percent increase in club membership, Fullerton said. To become a member of Beta Club, students must have straight A’s and pay the membership fee. Fullerton said he sends out initiations to join the club and students decide if they want to join. Beta Club does community service projects, and each member has to do 10 hours over the year.

“Beta club believes that exemplary student effort and outstanding academic achievement should be encouraged and rewarded,” said White County School System Superintendent Laurie Burkett. “They continuously look for ways to serve their schools and communities. Members are in the fourth through 12th grades. Beta club works to prepare members for life and empowering them to be successful. Our students competed in Savannah this past month and rose to the occasion and brought home several awards.”

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