Bright future: NASD student excels at national Beta Club conference

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

By Christian Coffman

NATCHEZ — Tavia Morris said she was not prepared for the shock when she was called to the stage at the national Beta Club convention.

Although Morris had not originally planned to compete in the science competition when she went to the state tournament, the Susie B. West Elementary School fifth-grader not only won first place at the state level, she took fourth place at the national conference.

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The win put her in the top five among the 15,000 Beta Club members in attendance at the national conference in Orlando, Fla.

“We weren’t expecting to win, we were just going to go down there and have fun,” Morris’ mother Paula said.

In March, Tavia competed in the state Beta Club tournament in Biloxi in March.

Tavia was originally slated to compete in the talent competition and the quiz bowl at state, when one of the science division participants dropped out. The school needed another student to fill the slot.

“Very quietly she said, ‘I like science, I want to compete,’” Paula said. “She volunteered and it worked out.”

Tavia placed first place in the state competition.

The national convention featured quizzes, talent contests and speech, poetry and photography competitions.

Academic competitions, in fields such as science, math and social studies, were also part of the convention.��We had one hour to complete a 50-question science test,” Tavia said. “It was challenging, I tried to prepare as much as I could, and I just did my best.”

Many of the details about the test were not revealed to the participants.

“They didn’t tell (participants) the score, they just ranked them,” Paula said. “We didn’t know how many kids completed, we had no idea what was on the test and no idea how to prepare for it.”

Tavia said many of the questions were about chemistry and the periodic table.

Waiting on the test scores with her seven other Beta Club members was the most difficult part, Tavia and Paula said.

“There was a nice group of kids from Natchez … it was good that they got to compete,” Paula said.

When Tavia was called to the stage to accept her award, she and her mother could hardly believe it.

“When we heard (her name) called, I was so excited. I was crying,” Paula said. “Mississippi and Louisiana are always at the bottom of the pole academically, so for her to place so high is pretty significant.”

“I was happy, I couldn’t really believe it,” Tavia said. “I didn’t expect to get that high. We had to walk on the stage and there were big lights, and it was just fun.”

Tavia said she is going to remain in Beta Club when she attends Robert-Lewis Magnet School in the fall and compete in the state Beta Club competition again when the opportunity arises.

“Regardless of what would’ve happened, I’d still be proud of her,” Paula said.