Halls Middle Beta Club Headed To Junior National Convention

Halls Middle Beta Club Headed To Junior National Convention

The Halls Middle School Beta Club placed in seven events at the Tennessee Junior Beta Club Convention last month and will compete in the National Convention next summer.

Beta Club is a service-oriented organization for middle and high school students that focuses on academics, leadership, and character. There are chapters all over the United States, and schools compete once a year at the state level with the hopes of continuing to the national competition. 

The students in the HMS chapter have an impressive resume that has led them to Nationals for the past several years. So far this year, the club has volunteered at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Nashville, purchased Christmas gifts for a family in need, made a donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and promoted breast cancer awareness, decorated a tree for the Fantasy of Trees, and organized a 9/11 memorial assembly — just to name a few.

These volunteer opportunities are what led the club to earn first place in the Service Learning Showcase. 

“They work hard, and they give it their all,” Beta Club sponsor Dina Lane said.

In addition to placing in the Showcase, HMS also placed:

  • 1st in Color Photography (Lillian Holt),
  • 1st in Quilling (Lillian Holt),
  • 2nd in Living Literature (Katie Evans and Craye Newman),
  • 2nd in Portfolio (Katie Evans),
  • 2nd in Technology (Ben Tyson and Ben Keaton), and 
  • 5th in 7th Grade Mathematics (Ben Tyson).

The group will compete in Louisville, Kentucky, next summer.

While succeeding at this level is exciting for these middle school students, the members enjoy the other aspects even more.

“I like helping people, so that’s probably my biggest thing for Beta,” said Landon Chittum, who gave a speech at Junior Convention on “unsung heroes.”

Eight-grader Ella Miller said her favorite part of Beta Club is “probably when we do things for Children’s Hospital. It’s really nice when we’re able to do that for them.”

The next step for the eighth-grade students is to start a chapter at Halls High School.

“Beta Club can actually allow you to get scholarship money,” Lane said. “I know they would love to have one at the high school. I’ve offered to help.”

Other KCS students who placed at the state convention are:

  • 1st in 7th Grade Spanish (Miguel Escobar, Carter Middle)
  • 1st in Jewelry (Emmalee Long, Carter Middle)
  • 2nd in Onsite Art Painting (Kameryn Lee, Carter Middle)

South-Doyle Students Explore Career Options

South-Doyle Students Explore Career Options

Students from South-Doyle Middle School explored careers, practiced elevator speeches and learned how to dress for success at a career-themed event this week!

The “Get Hired” field trip included a career fair at the Sarah Simpson Center and programming at UTK’s Haslam College of Business, along with a scavenger hunt.

8th-graders Tamahj Martin and Benjamin Collins learned about careers including professional photography, and Collins said he wants to be a lawyer if a basketball career doesn’t work out.

  • Asked about his elevator speech, Collins had a strong pitch to potential employers in the legal field: “I’m very good at arguing. I like to help people get through stuff that’s hard for them.”

The event was led by the KCS CTE Department, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee and the Haslam College of Business, and the Tennessee Department of Education provided grant funding.

Weightlifting Club Builds Strength And Confidence

Weightlifting Club Builds Strength And Confidence

Auriel Canales Rojas says the Iron Rangers club at Northwest Middle School helps him feel more confident.

Auriel Canales Rojas has been waking up with some aches and pains in recent weeks, but he isn’t worried about it.

The 7th-grader at Northwest Middle School is part of the Iron Rangers, a weightlifting club that aims to help students gain confidence, develop relationships and foster self-discipline.

The club meets after school on Wednesday afternoons, and Canales said KCS social worker Brian Tunstall – the group leader – has reminded them that the soreness means they’re building muscle.

  • It makes me build strength and makes me feel confident every day,” Canales said.

A version of the Iron Rangers has met at Northwest intermittently for several years, but more recently the initiative has expanded.

  • An Iron Falcons club launched at Fulton High this year, and an Iron Navigators club is in its second year at Richard Yoakley School. New clubs are expected to launch at Holston Middle, South-Doyle Middle and Carter Middle next year.

In addition to the weekly meetings, participants get a t-shirt and a certificate of completion.

During a recent meeting at Northwest, Tunstall asked participants about their goals, which included losing weight, being able to focus and improving their grades.

The social worker encouraged the boys with a car metaphor, saying that working out can be a vehicle that helps you reach your goals. In an interview, he said the opportunity to connect with kids is “what makes my heart happy”:

  • Middle school is a hard age for young men. They’re trying to find their identity and where they fit in. Weightlifting is a big confidence and self-esteem booster.”

Digital Media Project Shares Inspiring Stories

Digital Media Project Shares Inspiring Stories

Led by ELA teacher Jade Jernigan (second from right), students at Gresham Middle School have helped create a series of videos that highlight stories about overcoming adversity. (From left, Asia Smith; Carlos Mata; teachers Alice McManus and Jernigan; and Maggie Wilson.)

For students at Gresham Middle School, a teacher’s effort to highlight inspiring Black History Month stories has also become a chance to sharpen their digital media skills.

In January, Gresham ELA teacher Jade Jernigan was looking for ways to infuse some “joy and passion” into a unit of readings on liberty and equality.

After brainstorming with fellow teacher Alice McManus, Jernigan began interviewing professionals from a variety of fields about overcoming adversity.

The project took off, and students began pitching in to help with nearly every aspect of the production: editing videos, writing questions, creating promotional thumbnails and even conducting interviews.

“This is the first time I think in my career where I have actively reached out to students for help instead of my colleagues,” she said. “And my kiddos have just risen to the occasion.”

Gresham student Carlos Mata has been a key contributor, and said the best part is seeing the finished product: “It may take a while to get something, but as soon as you get to it, it’s like a reward.”

Jernigan said the project gives students something to look forward to at the end of class, and has served as a bridge between classroom texts and real-life stories. As an example, she said a lesson about the impact of literacy on the life of Frederick Douglass echoed the lessons recounted by MMA fighter Rampage Jackson, who talked about the challenges he faced by not understanding the details of his legal contracts.

Asia Smith got the chance to interview syndicated radio host Barbie T, but said that when she sees famous people, “I don’t exactly go into fangirl phase.” “I keep it cool, basically,” she added with a laugh.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Jernigan and her students will be posting motivational success stories throughout March, and are planning to interview author Nikki Grimes.

And while celebrities may be intriguing, the students agreed that one of the most impactful interviews was with 6th-grade social studies teacher Vincent Dave, who talked about his efforts to promote Black history, and the adversity he overcame to become a teacher.

“I think it’s just uplifting, hearing how they’ve been able to go through many things and just come out successful,” said 8th-grader Maggie Wilson.