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The Beta Life: A Personal Reflection

by Beverly Bridgers

It is easy to find fault with small town education, especially when there are larger cities touting all they have to offer: bigger art programs, higher test scores, better schools, greater opportunities. It is true. You can find all these things and more throughout NC, but I would like to encourage all Bladen County residents to take a moment and reflect on what they have within their 879 square mile territory. To be more specific, I would like them to take a closer look at the Beta Life in Bladen County.

Being part of Beta is an honor. Students must work to earn and maintain high academic standards, and they must be willing to complete service projects for their schools and communities. They understand the importance of leadership and character. They do not have cheerleaders to chant and cheer them on as they work, and they do not have fancy scoreboards announcing their victories on a weekly basis. What they do have is dedicated sponsors, teachers, principals, and parents who encourage them that stepping out of their comfort zones, daring to try something different, or reaching for goals they may or may not obtain is what the Beta Life is all about. It is a growing process that begins in the fourth grade and reaches through the senior year for those who persevere. It takes hard work and dedication, much like it does for a sports team. The only difference is the number of accolades we fail to provide our Beta students for work that begins in August and ends in June. For NC Betas, their shining moment takes place every February in Greensboro.

On February 4th, parents, sponsors, and Junior Beta members from across NC began pouring into the Koury Convention Center with the anticipation of competing in academics, arts, entertainment, and state offices. For anyone who has never been to a convention, imagine costumes, props, speeches, 600 pieces of artwork, boxes of No. 2 pencils, and containers of tape, paint, and tools to make last minute repairs. It is the perfect example of organized chaos, but it is an event worth every second of hard work, every tear, every smile, and every experience. Bladen County represented charter, private, and public schools from each corner of its border and in between. Those who were there witnessed Bladen County students speaking, singing, and performing in front of at least 2,000 people. They heard Bladen County schools called to the stage countless times to receive state awards and invitations to compete at the National Beta Convention in Savannah, GA in June. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements was witnessing Bladen County students win three state offices: chaplain, reporter, and secretary.

The North Carolina Junior Beta Convention adjourned its 26th annual meeting at noon on February 6th, and when it did, it sent some of the most talented and intelligent students back to the small-town schools of Bladen County. While we may not always agree on educational issues or approaches, I feel it is safe to say that we can agree on the educational opportunities and successes that the Beta Life provides our students. As many of these schools and students prepare for their national competitions, I encourage our Bladen County residents to consider how they can reach out and support these children who continue and will continue to live and grow in the Beta Life. Congratulations, Bladen County Betas.

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