Tug Valley student Karah Sheppard was elected the 2009 Beta Club state president at the convention.
On Friday evening, November 21, 2008, WV State Beta Club President Justin Willis opened the first general session of the 55th Annual West Virginia State Beta Club Convention held at the Holiday Inn Charleston House.
After an afternoon of academic competition, around 500 junior and senior high Betas from schools throughout the state met in their first general session to officially begin a weekend of academic, creative, and talent competitions.
Starting as a local club with fifteen members in 1934, the National Beta Club has grown into one of the most recognized and most active clubs in any school setting. There are more than 418,000 active members and more than 8,000 clubs. In addition to clubs in the United States, there are clubs in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Guam, and Germany. During its tenure as one of the most beneficial clubs in a school, the National Beta Club has been important in the lives of over five and one half million students in grades 5-12.
In addition to providing an opportunity for outstanding students to showcase their talents both in academics and creativity, the National Beta Club awards more than $250,000 each year to seniors across its membership area.
One can find a former Beta member in almost any area of employment. With its emphasis on character, leadership, achievement, scholarship, and service, the club is a good foundation for work ethics. Nationally, Beta members donate more than 4,000,000 service hours each year to their school and community.
The West Virginia State Beta Convention is held each year in November. There are three general sessions beginning on Friday night and ending with a session on Saturday night followed by a mixer in the hotel's ballroom.
After calling the 55th Convention to order and having roll call from all the clubs attending, President Willis gave his Keynote Address entitled "What Beta Has Meant to Me." This was followed by a campaign rally in which each candidate for 2009 made a speech followed by a campaign skit.
The second general session was held on Saturday morning and was led by WV State Secretary Amber Waldrop whose keynote speech was entitled "Goodbye Beta." The final rounds for the spelling bee and the preliminary rounds for both senior and junior high quiz bowls were also held during this session.
A new feature for the convention this year was the addition of special performances by any group or individual. These talent spots give clubs an extra opportunity to present a talent perhaps not covered in the talent competition. Special performances this year included groups from Buffalo Elementary School, Crum Elementary School, and Tug Valley High School.
The last general session was held on Saturday evening with WV State Vice President Beverly Hall presiding. Her keynote address was entitled "Pictures of You, Pictures of Me."
Following this was the installation of new state officers. Karah Sheppard was elected as state president for 2009, Trevor Woolum was elected state vice president, and Maryann Chambers was elected state secretary. Vice President Hall then presided over the talent competition which was followed by the awards presentations.
Although Betas have fun during the weekend in Charleston, a lot of work is done to prepare for the competitions. Arts and crafts must be completed, scrapbooks put together, and banners created. Another new item added this year was the poster competition. Before coming to the convention, each club chose a team to create a poster. After arriving in Charleston, they were given the theme and had to create their poster within a specified time limit.
During the weekend, Betas have some time for shopping, but most of the weekend is spent in individual academic competitions and in practicing for the talent show on Saturday night.
The individual academic events include math, science, English, social studies, short story, poetry, and oratory. Included in individual arts and crafts are such categories as oil and acrylic painting, computer art, needlepoint, woodworking, and photography.
Clubs compete against other clubs in areas of scrapbook, banner, talent, quiz bowl, and spelling. Senior high students and clubs who win in each of these categories are invited to enter their talent or art at the National Beta Convention held each summer. This year, the national convention will be held in Orlando, Fla.