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Beta Club and NASA HUNCH Students Attend Competitions

News Editor

Two groups of Dade County High School students have the opportunity to attend state and national competitions, as discussed at the Jan. 23 Dade County Board of Education meeting. The groups are fundraising to cover travel expenses, and the board approved these newly added fundraisers.

The first competition is the Georgia National Beta Club convention in Savannah, Ga. on Jan. 25-27. The week of the trip, Principal Brent Cooper and Beta Club sponsor, Ashley Harrison, spoke about the club and competition.

Cooper explained the return of student clubs, saying, “We started last semester with nine major clubs. We listened to the students and they really wanted to bring clubs back, something we haven’t been able to do because of the 2019-2020 school year. We now have over 30 clubs.”

He added, “Ashley took over Beta about four years ago when it had six to eight students,” and Harrison reported that the number of students in the club is now in the 80s.

Harrison explained that Beta Club is a non-profit educational youth organization that works to instill four pillars in students: Achievement, character, leadership, and service. She said, “Our chapter was founded in 1971. 2019-2020 was the first year our students attended a national convention.”

Out of the 16 students who attended the state competition that year, 12 qualified for nationals, but the convention was canceled due to COVID-19. Dade County students did well in the 2020-2021 year as well, and while the state competition was virtual, two students from that year were able to attend the in-person national competition in Orlando, Fla.

Last year, there were no clubs at the high school, but this year, Harrison said, “We’re very thankful that we’re back and we are competing. We have 16 students competing in nine different categories [at the state competition].”

The second competition is the NASA HUNCH National Competition in Houston, Texas on April 17. Jennifer Clark, health operations teacher, spoke about her students’ achievements and the opportunity to compete nationally.

Clark explained that she and her students wanted to get involved with the program, but at the time, the NASA HUNCH Health & Biomedical Program didn’t exist. Clark began overseeing the pilot program in 2021. Students came up with and executed multiple ideas both last year and this year.

Clark reported that a team from the NASA HUNCH headquarters in Texas visited the students at Dade County. “They were so impressed with our students that they created a biomedical and health science competition for nationals, with our school being the pilot program for all the schools in the nation.” Dade County students in this NASA HUNCH program now get to attend the national competition.

Look for recaps of both competitions in future editions of the Sentinel.

Also during the board meeting, Josh Ingle gave the superintendent’s report, noting that planning with the Alliance for Dade has begun for the second career fair. He said, “We get the students. They raise awareness among local businesses.”

The Dade County Board of Education was recognized by the Georgia School Boards Association as an Exemplary School Board. Ingle explained that this was the highest of three levels, and the board received it for meeting criteria such as strategic plan requirements, assessments, training credit hours, accreditation, board ethics, and fiscal responsibility.

Loran Grasham gave the monthly financial and general fund reports, noting that the school system began the fiscal year with a general fund balance of about $6.5 million. With approximately $12 million in revenue and expenditures close to $10 million, the current balance is nearly $9 million.

The board received requests for proposals for repairs to the Davis Elementary School kitchen. Ken Harless, an architect with KRH Architects, said the repairs will “give it another 10-15 years of life.”

He reported that a small amount of asbestos containing materials were found which will be taken care of during the construction.

He said, “Integrated Properties turned in a proposal. We’ve worked with them…I highly recommend them.” The total bid is $160,005.

Once the bid becomes a contract, the work is scheduled to be completed by March 30, 2023, assuming no additional issues arise during the process.

The board entered executive session to review the superintendent’s mid-year evaluation which occurred on the afternoon of Dec. 12, 2022.

The personnel report is as follows:

  • 2022-2023 Directors/Principals: Charity Barton, Michelle Beeler, Brent Cooper, Tonya Gatlin, Shenea Hill, Patti Johnson, Susan Reyes, Jeremy Roerdink
  • Retirement: Tracy Blevins, Jan Greene, Judy Walden
  • Resignation: Krystle Wilburn, Heather Holder (from Cafeteria), Margaret Luke, Billy Duncan
  • Voluntary Transfer: Jessie Guthrie, Samantha Lowery
  • Substitute Teacher: Mary Lawson Gamble, Ashleigh Garmany, Heather Holder, Shelby Cloud

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