IHS Beta Club dominates at nationals

Immokalee High School’s (IHS) Beta Club continues to dominate on the national stage. Its recent return from the National Beta Convention in Oklahoma City brought numerous accolades, including first place (National Champions!) in the categories of Problem Solving and Character Skit; second place in Campaign Skit; and sixth place in Scrapbook/Portfolio. In addition to its group wins, students Andrea Hernandez and Daniella Bermudez walked away with individual awards—fourth place in Math-Grade 12 and ninth place in Drawing, respectively. The Club also received the People’s Choice Award for Service!

“It feels good to win; but, to say it felt good would be an understatement,” expressed Club member Wenchy Dutreuil. “The competition was stiff, the experience was exhilarating, and preparation was there.”

When questioned about the Club’s continued success, mentor Linda Ayer states, “It takes a village.” For example, Village Oaks Elementary teacher Adriana Villanueva (a former IHS Beta Club member) heads the art group, IHS teacher Kristin Fuller dedicates her time to guiding the group, IHS engineering teacher Fred Rimmler heads the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) competitions, retired IHS guidance counselor Audrey Moss helps with stage performances and costumes, and Beta Club alum and RCMA employee Eliud Trejo assists with on-stage performances.

“Consistency, expectations, pride, and students who want to share their talents” are also forefront in the Club’s achievements, explains Ayer.

And at the heart of Beta is service. Their motto—Let Us Lead by Serving Others. It’s what has kept Ayer returning year after year and it’s part of what drew Club member Priscilla Fonseca to the group. “It feels amazing helping my community in so many ways. With Beta, I am happy when I put a smile on someone else’s face. The feeling is indescribable.”

You have probably witnessed Beta’s service in action. Members volunteer support to Lipman’s backpack project, holiday parties at Cypress Run, a clothing/uniform program called Noah’s Attic (in which they partner with First United Methodist Church of Immokalee), parent and STEM nights at local elementary schools, migrant parent workshops, and special programs at Collier County Parks and Recreation. In addition, Beta Club students are active members of Project Unify, have raised thousands of dollars for Relay for Life, and joined SNIP Collier to help control the animal population. Not surprisingly, the Club was honored this year with Beta’s All Star Service recognition, meaning the Club averaged 55 hours of community service for each member.

“What I enjoyed most was being known for doing good,” shared former Club member and IHS graduate Catherine Mareus. “Being part of Immokalee Beta was a real privilege. We were led by amazing leaders who gave us an opportunity to be a part of a noble club and wanted nothing but the best for us.”

And for Mareus, who graduated this year, winning first place at nationals was bittersweet. “When our school was called to be placed in the top five, I knew in my heart that we had gotten first place. It was sweet to know that our hard work paid off, but bittersweet knowing that it was the last time I was going to have that feeling and that purpose.”

Mareus is headed to Florida A & M University in the fall to major in Journalism. “I hope to use my strong personality to be able to speak for those who cannot, address major issues that our country may be unaware of, and hopefully make a change to further end discrimination.”

Returning member Detreuil is looking forward to what’s ahead next year. “The sponsors and adult volunteers are kind and supportive. The students are very kind, generous, intelligent, and motivated. I have had an amazing experience these past two years and am especially excited to see what new talent this new season will bring.”

(Submitted photo) Immokalee High School Beta Club attending the National Beta Convention in Oklahoma City.

Jennifer L. Kupiec is the Specialist, Communications & Community Engagement Collier County Public Schools

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