WATCH | ‘Totally Beta’: National Beta hosts regional leadership summit in Spa City

Students visit vendor tables in the hallways of the Hot Springs Convention Center Monday during the National Beta Club Regional Leadership Conference. - Photo by Brandon Smith of The Sentinel-Record

Nearly 750 students in grades 4-12 attended the National Beta Club Regional Leadership Conference Monday at the Hot Springs Convention Center, bringing in Beta Club students from five different states.

The summit, which ends today at noon, features a schedule of activities that includes representative interviews, leadership sessions, officer training, project proposals, sponsor meetings, leadership challenges, and scavenger hunts.

"This is a regional leadership summit," National Beta Sponsor Amy Luttrell, of Spartanburg, S.C., said on Monday morning. "We offer those in 11 other states, and so this is an opportunity for anyone that's in Beta to actually attend this leadership event. We have guest speakers, we have all kinds of challenges that take place as well. We just want to try to grow the club, not just through convention, but through the leadership opportunity."

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The theme for the conference is "Totally Beta," not to be confused with that of the state convention, which is "Beta: A Voyage of Adventure," that will be held in January.

According to National Beta Club's website, regional leadership summits offer students a chance to learn how to "become more effective leaders, build positive self-esteem, and overcome negative peer pressure."

"Whether engaging in energetic group activities and discussions, listening to motivational speakers, watching inspirational videos or competing in team-building events, you'll develop enduring friendships and take home ideas that will enable you to become a better student, leader and person," it says.

Luttrell said the summits are growing.

"We got kids from Missouri, we have people from Arkansas, we have Tennessee, we have Texas, we have Louisiana, so because it's regional, that means that anyone from our other Beta states can actually attend. The number of registrants is up almost 300 more in attendance this year, so we're real excited about that. That's wonderful for us and it's great for the organization, but really for the kids," she said.

She said National Beta Club's mission in the school systems is to provide opportunities for students to not only achieve academically, but also in leadership capability, character, and willingness to serve. While the conventions are held in 18 states throughout the nation, leadership conferences are held in 12.

"Right now we have a leadership session that's taking place with the guest speaker," she said.

"That's for our junior kids. That's going to happen two other times today -- one for senior (high) and then one for the elementary.

"Then we actually have an officer training that I'll be doing, so anyone that has a club officer, they have the opportunity to be trained on what it takes to run a club in a school. We will be doing 'Collaboration Connection,' which is a challenge. We have people currently interviewing to be leadership representatives. We'll be doing project proposal (Monday night), which is about a service project. And then (today) we'll be doing the challenge called 'Lead Outside the Box,' and we'll be doing another session," Luttrell said.

The Arkansas junior and senior Beta Club conventions will be held Jan. 17-19, also at the convention center.

  photo  National speaker and creator of the "School Unity Project," Bill Portis talks to a group of students Monday morning at the National Beta Club Regional Leadership Conference at the Hot Springs Convention Center. - Photo by Brandon Smith of The Sentinel-Record