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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — Although schools were out Monday for Presidents’ Day, thousands of high school students from across the state converged on Tupelo for the annual state Beta Club convention.

They earn Beta Club membership through outstanding academic achievement, but this convention also gives these young people a chance to show off their artistic and leadership skills.

For several weeks now,  students have been rehearsing, and they wanted to get in one final practice, before taking the stage in the large group talent competition at the Mississippi Beta Club Convention.

“We’re ready, not as ready as we ‘d like to be but we are ready,” said Leake Central High School Senior Cody Smith.

Karen Girling is the sponsor of the Leake Central High School Beta Club. She says it was tough getting everyone gathered for practices.

“A lot of Beta kids, they are involved in band, track and field, softball, FFA, baseball, so it’s really hard to get them all together, but they’re pretty dedicated,” Girling said.

More than 4,000 students from high schools throughout the state are at the three-day Beta Club State Convention.

They will compete in arts, academic and talent competitions. Beta Club members are taught the core values of academic achievement, character, service and leadership. It takes a lot of hard work to get to the state meet.

“To qualify for Beta Club they have to have a high academic average and this gives them a chance to show their leadership skills, community service and have a little bit of fun too,” said Lea Ann Dunklee, sponsor of the Pontotoc High School Beta Club.

Participants say they look forward to the state convention for a number of reasons.

“It teaches them how to work with other people and how to balance their talents with other people and showcase the importance of making good grades and things that matter in life, and that is to share with each other and share with other people,” Girling said.

“Beta Club is all about service and it’s all about serving others and being with other people that are like you and so through Beta we have the opportunity to serve others and to get to know other people,” said Sara Beth Gross, Leake Central High School senior.

“Beta Club teaches me that it’s not all about making the grades, it’s about going out and making a difference in your community,” said Robert Fleming, of Pontotoc High School.

Robert is running for president of the Mississippi Beta Club. He and thousands of students here will continue their competitions and campaigns for various offices until the meet wraps up Tuesday evening.

Winners from this meeting will head to nationals in Alabama this summer. But all those who attend this convention say they are inspired to take what they learn here back to their schools and communities.

This is the 67th annual meeting of the Beta Clubs in Mississippi.

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