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AMS Jr. Beta has record state performance

By Abigail Allen 

Editor & Publisher 

As Makayla King sang “Welcome to Wonderland” on stage Feb. 1 at the Gaylord Texan, the Tate Ballroom was illuminated by cell phone flashlights swaying to the beat. 

King, the vice president of the Aubrey Middle School Junior Beta Club, is one of the club members who qualified to participate in the National Beta Convention in June in Savannah, Georgia. 

“The way the kids have come together as a group and poured their heart and soul into their performances and their competitions is awe-inspiring,” sponsor Randall Skoog said. 

The club had 64 members who participated in the state competition, and of those, Aubrey Middle School placed in the Top 5 in 21 events, seven of which were first-place finishes. 

Those were in apparel design (King); performance art: solo, duo, trio vocalist (King); quiz bowl (Jack Duncan, Jason Stanley, Elena Lujan and Matthew Wheeler); color photography (Lia Ryter); spelling bee (Isabella Strickland); math eighth grade (Duncan); and Spanish sixth grade (Katia Montoya Solorzano). 

The club had two second place finishes—onsite drawing (Georgia Nightingale) and digital art (Ruby Conway). 

There were three third-place finishes—quilling (Ashley Skoog); math seventh grade (Wheeler); and reading language arts sixth grade (Aria Baceva). 

The club also had six fourth-place finishes—club trading pin (America Vargas); Spanish seventh grade (Emily Paul); social studies seventh grade (AJ Foster); technology (Crew Peterson, Gabriel Kane and Landon Littlefield); musicology (Jane Okafor, Raylin Meeks, Ava Walton and Leah Alvarado); and performance art small group (Julia Allen, Baceva, Lea Bortner, Olivia Busse, Willow Droddy, Anika Fong, Mckynleigh Odell, Colton Price, Nate Roach, Gemma Richardson, Thierry Motutu-Elinge and Teddy Daniel. 

There were also three fifth-place finishes—Songfest (Reid Smith, King, Gigi Kane, Odell, Busse, Ruby Gillum, McKenna Quade, Silke Hjelmgren, Vargas, Robyn James, Droddy, Fong, Sadie Jones and Sahara Concepcion); social studies sixth grade (Peterson); and Spanish eighth grade (Jaqueline Martinez Morales). 

Skoog’s fellow sponsor, Leighanne Huckaby, said she enjoyed her first time at the state convention. 

“It was really great to see how excited they are,” she said, adding, “to see them support each other makes me even more proud.” 

This year’s convention has given Huckaby ideas of how to prepare for next year, too. 

One of the sixth-grade students, Isabella Valbuena, ran for but was not selected to be president of the Texas Junior Beta Chapter. 

“She had a very tough act to follow, and … she calmly collected herself, she pulled herself together and she came out onto the stage and had a fantastic speech, and she did it flawlessly,” Skoog said. “That was one of the best things that came out of it for me.” 

Valbuena said it was a challenge to put herself out there to run, but she was proud of the effort she gave. 

“It was scary, but I tried my best,” she said. 

King said she is so proud of the efforts of the entire club, and especially of Valbuena. 

When the group heads to Georgia, King will have the opportunity to be a premier performer. 

“I feel like every single one of us has done an amazing job, and I’m so proud of everyone,” King said. 


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