3,000 attend convention in PB
First year Neelyville Junior Beta Club Sponsor Rachel Hagood could relate to her students when nerves began to hit at the state convention.
The hard work of campaigning a club member for a state office, competing in academic and arts and craft competitions as well as quiz bowl was about to come to fruition.
"I have been a little stressed, but the kids worked hard and have done what was asked of them," Hagood said. "It has been fun and I'm pleased with them."
The hard work paid off when J.D. Burton was announced as the Missouri State Junior Beta Chaplain.
Joining Burton as a Missouri State Junior Beta officer and earning an invitation to compete at the national level in Savannah, Ga., this summer were President Chris Stone of T.S. Hill Middle School in Dexter, Vice President Ian Pickard of Malden Junior High and Secretary Joel Aycock of Bernie Junior High.
Missouri Junior Beta State Chair Dr. Tim Hager announced 15 years ago the Junior Beta journey began with 500 students on the campus of Three Rivers College.
"Today we have 3,000 students from 70 clubs all across the state of Missouri," he said on stage at the Black River Coliseum.
Beta Clubs from across the state traveled to the Missouri Junior Beta Convention in Poplar Bluff, Mo., March 8 - 9, to compete in academic competitions as well as talent, arts and crafts and the opportunity to serve as a Missouri state Beta officer.
Burton promised his fellow Betas, "Like a good neighbor" he would always be there for the members.
Originally considering running for the president office, Burton decided he was more fit for the chaplain office.
"My dad is a pastor and I wanted to make him proud," Burton said. "I thought this was the best way."
While speaking in front of 3,000 people is enough to make most seventh grade students nervous, Burton said he was given advice before taking the stage.
"Don't be scared," Burton said he was told. "The Lord will always be there for you."
Burton's competitor, Bloomfield student Joanna "JoJo" Metcalf, campaigned to be the "Beta Fixer Upper" inspired by Fixer Upper couple Chip and Joanna Gains. "We as Betas need to be the fixer uppers in our schools," Metcalf said. "I will help guide Missouri Betas to fix up our schools, communities and most importantly, ourselves."
Puxico Junior High School is not new to the world of Beta and conventions.
"The students are most excited about the competitions entered and getting to hang out with other Betas from other schools," Puxico Junior Beta Sponsor Tonna O'Dell said.
Puxico was represented well by competing in academic testing, visual arts competitions, advertising design and special talent.
"The kids have been behaved, respectful and always represent the school and community well," O'Dell said.
Doniphan Junior Beta Lane Allen, who was described as "having the voice of an angel," is no stranger to performing in front of large crowds.
While Allen's family travels and performs on a regular basis, 3,000 people will be the largest group he has performed in front of to date.
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be," Allen said before singing. "When people get into the performance it's fun and not so nerve wracking."
As Allen took the stage, the Doniphan Junior Beta Club could be heard chanting, "Lane! Lane! Lane!"
The crowd quickly "got into" his performance. After the first few notes, a sea of cell phone lights filled the Black River Coliseum.
Allen's angelic voice and performance earned him a third place win in the Special Talent, Division I category.
Newly elected Missouri State President Stone made many sacrifices to obtain the helm of Missouri State Junior Beta.
"I didn't run track this year because I wanted to run for president," he said.
In addition to placing himself on the sidelines during athletics, Stone also said he has to make up school work while being away fulfilling the duties of his office.
Honored to be chosen as a candidate by his T.S. Hill Middle School Beta Club, Stone said he has always been good at talking to people and making new friends.
Support was in abundance for Stone, not only from his club, but also other state and national officers.
Abigail Dement, 2017-2018 Missouri State Junior Beta Secretary, who is also from T.S. Hill, provided Stone with help as well as 2017-2018 Missouri State and National Junior Beta President Dawson Hill of Bloomfield.
"Chris Stone, Vote for Chris Stone," in the tune of "Meet the Flintstones" was chanted by the T.S. Hill Middle School Junior Beta Club while encouraging students to pick up their phone and vote for Stone.
"I knew I wanted to do something with the stone age and Fred Flintstone," Stone said. "Other classmates, teachers and my Beta sponsor all helped with the slogan."
Newly elected Vice President Pickard decided to work the angle of standing out.
Pickard added being the son of a preacher and both parents are teachers, he has learned to embrace his red hair in all its glory.
"If we put all our awkwardness together, we can make an All American team," he said.
Newly elected Secretary Aycock emphasized Beta members as the future leaders of the world in several highway comparisons.
"Betas, take the wheel and go down the path that leads us to excellence," Aycock said. "It's time for us to stop sitting in the backseat and take the wheel."
Poplar Bluff Middle School Beta member Brileygh Cates is no stranger to the Junior Beta Convention, attending for her fourth and final year.
"I love seeing what everyone has to offer," Cates said of the talented students in attendance. "Even if it's the same, it's presented in a different way."
While Cates will be moving on to Senior Beta Club next year and leaving many of the friends she has made, she is also looking forward to the new opportunity.
"I am looking forward to seeing more talent and upped performances," she said.