Barren County High School’s Beta Club is known for being the club to beat in multiple competitions at the annual state convention in Louisville, and this year proved no different. They took home 18 awards, and Carli Clifford, junior, was elected Senior Beta Vice President. They qualified for nationals in Oklahoma City, Okla. this June.
Clifford, a Beta member since fifth grade, loves attending convention every year, and this year’s convention will be one she always remembers. After seeing her sister’s involvement in a Beta presidential skit the previous year, Clifford decided she would run.
“I watched her in this campaign skit for another girl,” Clifford said. “It made me want to run because [my sister] was so excited and loved Beta just like me.”
Once Clifford decided she wanted to run for state office, she went to work. There are several requirements to run for a state Beta office, and it all begins at the school level.
Stephanie Esters, Barren Beta sponsor, explained that many students from BCHS want to run for a state office, but only one can be selected to represent the school.
“Last year we had four students that submitted proposals,” Esters said.
“Within that proposal they give us some ideas about why they would make a good candidate, but they also give us a slogan idea, possible t-shirt design ideas and also [other] ideas.”
Esters said the students present their whole campaign idea to the sponsors in an interview, and they are looking for a student who can, “Prepare and tie together the whole campaign package.”
After Clifford was chosen, she started to work on her campaign. She had to prepare a slogan, t-shirt design, one-minute skit and two-minute speech. Her slogan and theme for her campaign was “Clifford the Big Red Dog.” Esters initially had her doubts about the slogan being incorporated in the skit, but it was perfect for Clifford.
“We really were able to kick it up a notch and make it fun by incorporating some hip-hop music and just to try to really bring it to life,” Esters said.
They added some more touches to the skit to appeal to the Beta members who were voting for Clifford.
“We had a huge backdrop, and Zack Wasson dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog. It was really neat, and the crowd really bought into it. That’s what we want, that memorable moment there,” Esters said.
About twenty students participated in Clifford’s first place campaign skit. Kayleigh Smith, who was involved in skit and group talent, said that the people in skit would stay an extra thirty minutes to an hour after group talent rehearsal to practice the skit.
Clifford said the most difficult part of her campaign was memorizing and perfecting her speech. She went on to say speaking in front of the large crowd at convention was her favorite part. Esters said the speech was one of the most important parts of Clifford’s campaign and they spent a lot of time focusing on it.
“The delivery, her stage presence, the verbiage as far as incorporating her theme and trying to be consistent,” Esters said.
Once at convention, Clifford spent her time meeting new people, starting conversations and asking for their vote. Esters said the group had to take a different approach to meeting new people this year.
“There used to be a trifold board, and they would set it up and do a meet and greet, but that went away this year. So Carli’s campaign focused on teaching our members how to approach other people, to be kind, to help win votes for her that way,” Esters said.
Their methods worked, and Clifford was elected as Senior Beta State Vice President. The Senior Beta President is Dinah Miranda, a junior from Glasgow High School. South Central Kentucky usually has a state Beta officer elected.
Clifford’s next step is running for a national office this June. Clifford said running at nationals will consist of, “Everything I did at state but even bigger.”
The same people who participated in Clifford’s campaign skit at state won’t all be in her skit at the national convention. Esters said that these changes will have to be accounted for, as well as the fact that less students will be attending nationals with them in the summer. Unlike the state convention, any Beta member from Kentucky can participate in the campaign skit, not just Barren County High School students.
“We do try to reach out to other clubs that we’ve traveled with in the past or [clubs] that we just have good relationships with,” Esters said.
“I think this year that could really be helpful because Glasgow has their new state president that was just elected, and Carli is running for vice president. I would like to see us try to work together, although none of those conversations have taken place yet,” Esters added.
Esters said that running at national convention provides a unique opportunity and she strongly encourages students who are elected to a state office to run at national convention.
“It’s a good networking experience. It also gets them free admission to do the Beta Leadership Camp, which is in Washington D.C. It is a huge opportunity,” Esters said.
Esters said Beta has benefits for college applications.
“It also really gives them a leg-up for scholarship opportunities and helps them have something to write about as far as essays are concerned,” Esters said.
If Clifford was elected as a national Beta officer this summer, she would be the first from BCHS in over 16 years.
In addition to Senior State Vice President, Barren Beta took home several more awards. Esters said they had a few more visual arts and academic wins this year.
“We try to be competitive across the board. We did have several academic placements. The most we’ve ever had is three, and we had four this year,” Esters said.
“Both of our students that competed in speech placed as well, which hasn’t happened before,” Esters added.
Esters noted the categories where they consistently place.
“We are pretty consistent in placing in portfolio, showchoir, which had a fourth place national win last year, campaign skit and our talents,” Esters said.
Barren Beta typically places in group talent, and the club goes to nationals to compete. Esters said that they have competed in group talent for seven out of the last eight years, and every year they have competed, they placed in the top two.
When taking their performances to nationals, they will have to make some adjustments, according to Esters.
“There will be some minor changes that have to be made just because it won’t be the same group of kids. We’ll probably have around thirty, at least, go to nationals. We took seventy to state,” Esters said.
There will also be substitutions in show choir and skit.
The full list of state convention wins is as follows: Kentucky Sr. Beta Vice President, first in Two Dimensional Design, first in Show Choir, first in Campaign Skit; first in Group Talent; first in Portfolio; second in Trading Pin – Makayla Brooks; second in Woodworking Division I – Skylar Owen; second in Speech Division I – Elizabeth Doyle; third in Solo – Briana Crowder; third in Mixed Media Division I – Natalie Hudson; third in Grade Nine Math – Malena Hughes; third in On-Site Painting Division II – Malia Owens; fourth in Jewelry Division I – Elizabeth Doyle; fourth in Grade Nine Spanish – Karissa Jones; fifth in Digital Art Division I – Cassidy Harrison; fifth in Grade Twelve Agriscience – Breanna Cook; fifth in Speech Division II – Caroline Kinsman; and first in Lead Outside the Box which they previously earned at a leadership summit in Sept. 2018.