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DeKalbs Hayes to advance to national Junior Beta finals
Garrett Hayes
Garrett Hayes with his second place finish in color photography.


For the first time in DeKalb West School’s history, a student will be advancing to the national finals of the Junior Beta Club. 8th grader Garrett Hayes, the DWS Junior Beta President, won second place November 21 at the Tennessee Junior Beta State Convention in the Visual Arts category of Color Photography. He discovered the news following the first general assembly session.


"Mom and I went straight to the big room where all visual arts were shown," Hayes recalls. "We walked in, and I was about 50 feet from my picture, but I could spot my picture. I saw a black sliver on my photo, and I remember whispering to mom, ‘Mom there is something on my photo.’ I swear I said it about 15 to 20 times, and each time I said it I said it louder."


Hayes, the son of Alan and Lesa Hayes, is invited to attend the national convention in Orlando, Florida in June.


"The picture was taken in Fort Morgan, Alabama, and the hallway there was a line of rooms where the soldiers lived."


"I do have a gifted eye for photography," Hayes says. "I guess I really realized that during my first photography competition during my second Beta competition in 2015. My dad sent me outside to walk around and take pictures of anything I thought could work. He told me I came back with some beautiful photos, and one of those photos turned out to be my entry in the 2015 competition."


Thirty-six Junior Beta members left Nov. 20 for a two-day stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel to compete in a variety of academic, arts and crafts, and other contests. The theme was "Betas: Above and Beyond."


Also representing DeKalb West in the academic competitions were Jaden Johnson in Math, and Brayden Antoniak, Science. Breanna Cothern, Abby Lawson, Riley Overstreet, and Nathaniel Crook were quizzed on 12 books that they read for the Book Battle contest. The Tower of Power team consisted of Aniston Farler, Madison Martin, Aly Griffith, Brett Walker, and Matt Nokes. The contest is designed for students to use innovative problem solving techniques and engineering concepts to create a straw tower that supports a tennis ball for one minute. Members of the Living Literature team were Bralin Moss, Jathan Willoughby, Lydia Willoughby, Lucas Hale, Dawson Bandy, Nathaniel Crook, Brayden Antoniak, and John Ellis. They created a set from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and they had the task of standing still like wax figures to recreate the piece of literature for viewers to see. Isaac Brown, Alley Beth Cook, Lynsey Ellis, and Nathan Dace made up the DWS Quiz Bowl team. For "Spotlight Your Club," Alex Moreno, Kortnee Skeen, Lacey McMillen, and Kyndal Cox put their creative skills to the test to devise a tri-fold board that would demonstrate what the DWS Junior Beta Club is like focusing on the convention theme, "Betas: Above and Beyond." Representing the club in the Scrapbooking contest were Gracie Griffin, Emma Damron, Summer Crook, and Bonnie Hale. Levi Driver sang "Little Drummer Boy" in the Special Talent contest. In the area of Visual Design, Emma Martin entered Sketching, Lydia Davenport, Black and White Photography, Kaia Howard, Recyclable Art, and Breanna Cothern, Sculpture.


"I am proud of our students," said Bill Conger, DWS School Counselor and Junior Beta Sponsor. "They represented us well in the competitions and with their behavior at the convention. They’re always striving to be the best at DeKalb West."


Amanda Mullinax, Jessica Antoniak, and Nadina Martel also sponsor the club.