2 Bartow schools charter new Beta Club chapters

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Two Bartow County schools have added another way to honor their top students.

Both Woodland Middle and Kingston Elementary started a chapter of the National Junior Beta Club this year and inducted their first members in February and March.

Led by sponsors Dr. Cindy Schwartz and Stacy Smith, the WMS chapter inducted 71 students — 28 sixth-graders, 26 seventh-graders and 17 eighth-graders — at its inaugural ceremony Feb. 21.

Schwartz, who teaches sixth-grade English language arts, said Woodland has a chapter now because eighth-grader Addison Payne “saw the need for a National Junior Beta Club at our school.”

“She asked our principal [Michael Blankenship] about getting a chapter started then she asked us if we would be willing to sponsor it,” she said. “We said yes and began the process of getting a charter, planning an induction and starting the club. The rest, as they say, is history.”

When deciding on members, Smith, a sixth-grade science teacher, said she and Schwartz “followed the four pillars of the Beta Club vision: academic achievement, character, leadership and service.”

“We are so excited that we have so many outstanding members,” she said. “We are really impressed with them, and we are excited to be a part of the inaugural year. The members are showing leadership by participating in the service projects. They are staying academically eligible, and they have great attendance at the biweekly meetings.”

At the induction ceremony, Woodland High Principal Dr. Wes Dickey was the guest speaker, and five students participated in a ceremony in which each lit a candle that represented character traits of club members: white for light, purity and faith, lit by sixth-grader Hannah Willoughby; red for pure love, wisdom and bravery, lit by eighth-grader Kameron Chappell; blue for truth, fidelity and loyalty, lit by sixth-grader Greer Cofield; gold for warmth, friendship and faithfulness, lit by sixth-grader Bailey Sakacsi; and black for dignity and seriousness, lit by sixth-grader Madison Taff.

Schwartz led the students in the Junior Beta Pledge, followed by Smith presenting them with certificates and school counselor Dina Donato awarding them Beta Club pins.

The ceremony concluded with all the new members signing the charter. 

The club members, who meet every other Thursday at 7:30 a.m., elected their officers — eighth-grader Jolie Fannin, president; Hannah Willoughby, vice president; and eighth-grader Abby Cates, secretary — and have already planned three community service projects. 

“Once the officers were elected, they chose our service projects for the year,” Schwartz said. “They chose three projects; each officer is taking the leadership role in one of the service projects.”

The first community project is helping Bartow Family Resources, and Hannah contacted Executive Director Kim Lewis to be the first guest speaker.

“Students were very interested in finding out what the BFR does in our community,” Schwartz said. “We collected over 20 packages of diapers and 15 packages of baby wipes. We are planning to help out at the resource center on Monday, April 22, to help paint, distribute pine straw, sort baby clothes, disinfect baby room toys and sort diapers.”

Jolie is in charge of the second project, supporting Tranquility House, and asked Executive Director Teresa Millsaps and Zanett Ellington, community relations coordinator for Christian League for Battered Women, to speak to the members. “They will explain what they do at the Tranquility House,” Schwartz said. “We are collecting Ziploc bags, Pop-Tarts and paper towels.” 

The final service project of the year, led by Abby, will be working with the Etowah Valley Humane Society, and Director Bryan Canty will be speaking to the club at its May 2 meeting.

“Our group will then go to the humane society on May 9 to walk and play with the dogs and clean cages,” Schwartz said. “We are also collecting items from the EVHS website for donation such as dog and cat food, collars, leashes and towels.”

At Kingston Elementary, 23 fourth- and fifth-graders with impeccable records and character were inducted into the school’s new club March 22. 

“I have been wanting to start a Beta Club chapter at Kingston Elementary for a few years,” sponsor Brandi O'Tinger said. “Recognizing student achievement, character and service are dear to my heart, and I knew we had some students at KES that excel in those areas. I also have fond memories of being a member of Beta when I was in school.”

To be invited to join the club, students had to have “academic achievement, two character references and three service projects,” O’Tinger, the GATEWAY teacher, said.

“Our charter members are kids with outstanding character, great grades and hearts to serve others,” she said. “They are excited to be a part of Beta and have so many great ideas on how we can help others in our school, community and world.”  

Kingston’s first induction ceremony was similar to Woodland’s. 

“We lit candles to show we agree to the mission and vision of the National Junior Beta Club,” O’Tinger said. “The candidates for membership were presented and accepted for membership. Dr. Rita Carter, National Beta Club board member, was our special guest. She was my Beta sponsor when I was in middle school so it was pretty special to have her at KES.”

The club, which meets once a month during lunch, is still in the process of electing officers, but members have already begun working on a service project, according to O’Tinger, who is being assisted by four other teachers this year: Mrs. Dougharty, Mrs. Garrard, Mrs. Hyde and Ms. Lindsey.

“Currently, we are collecting items for hospital care bags, items such as snacks, travel-size toothpaste, toothbrushes, activity pads, puzzles, books, magazines, etc.,” she said. “One of our former students is undergoing chemo, and we had that on our minds while we were brainstorming ideas for service projects. We plan to divide the items into bags or baskets and take them to local hospitals for families who are staying with loved ones.”

Next year, members will “look forward to doing three more service projects and are always looking for ideas and needs,” O’Tinger added.