Close this search box.
Virtus Academy

Virtus Academy Beta Club Students Prepare to Compete at the National Convention in June

Eight Virtus Academy students in grades 1-8 will take center stage at the National Beta Convention in Savannah in June to showcase their visual and performing arts talents. A Virtus Academy 10th grader will flex his academic muscles in Biomedical Health Sciences. 

“The National Convention is a culminating event for students who qualified at their respective state conventions,” says John Huggins, Virtus Academy Elementary Club Advisor and 5th Grade ELA Teacher. Since their wins at the state convention, our students have been practicing and developing new entries with an eye toward more victories in June.”

Wolfpack students qualified to compete nationally by placing in the top five in five categories and two divisions at the 31st Annual South Carolina Elementary/Junior Beta Convention in January and at the 86th Annual Senior Beta Convention in February. Competition categories are academic tests, visual arts, performing arts, STEM, and state office positions. 

VA student winners at the state level going on to compete nationally are:

Elementary Division Winners

Visual Arts
Micha Hopla, 1st Place, Sculpture
Adam Parker, 2nd Place, Black and White Photography
Jack Atkins, 4th Place, Painting
Hartley Tiller, 5th Place, On-Site Painting
Kinsley Truett, 5th Place, Drawing

Performing Arts
Micha Hopla & Willie Garris, 1st Place, Variety Act Duo

Junior Beta Club Division Winners

Performing Arts
Lucy Long & Bailey Steverson, 2nd Place, Vocal Duo

Senior Beta Club Division Winner

Biomedical Health Sciences
Damien Buie, 2nd Place

Huggins says VA elementary, middle, and high school students initially chose categories based on personal interests like painting, photography, and vocals or academic interests like science or math. At the state convention, students Micha Hopla and Willie Garris had planned to perform solos in the Performing Arts category. A last-minute change forced them to team up as a Variety Act Duo. Garris sang a song from Dragonball Z in Japanese while Hopla showcased her martial arts skills. The duo took home first prize. 

“The flexibility and willingness of Willie and Micha to join forces truly amazed all of us,” Huggins says. “People are still talking about it. They embodied the spirit of Beta and what it means to be Wolf Pack leaders.”

Similar to interests in the arts, some Beta Club students, like 10th grader Damien Buie, chose to compete academically. Students take multiple-choice tests in subjects like agriscience, language arts, social studies, or Spanish. The tests reinforce educational standards and allow students to demonstrate what they’ve learned in the classroom. 

“We were incredibly proud of Damien’s accomplishment at the state convention and can’t wait to see how he performs nationally,” says Jackee Johnston, Senior Beta Club Advisor and Assistant Executive Director of Operations. “Students are invited to participate in Beta Club based on academic achievement, character, leadership, and service to others.” 

With just four short months until our Beta Club winners head to Savannah, our students are busy putting the final touches on their performances and submissions. Kinsley Truett is working on a new drawing. Hartley Tiller is practicing different painting techniques, and Jack Atkins says he makes time every day to work on his painting. 

Students attending the National Convention are invited to participate in a service project to benefit the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Demonstrating the Beta motto, “Let Us Lead by Serving Others”, they will collect school supplies between now and June and then volunteer to count, sort, and pack the donations there. The top 10 schools per division that donate the most items will win a plaque and service pins.

Johnston says Virtus Academy students are also tasked with raising money between now and then to help cover travel expenses. 

“Attending the National Convention is a real honor for our students, and we want them to have time to prepare and enjoy the experience without worrying about the cost,” Johnston says. “We’re hopeful we can identify local sponsors to help with hotel rooms and meals.”

Huggins adds, “The opportunity to compete against students from other schools and states is very motivating. I hope we return with a few victories to celebrate, but either way, the experience will be educational and exciting for everyone.” 

Virtus Academy celebrates 86 Beta Club members at the Elementary, Junior, and Senior levels. Club activities wouldn’t be possible without a committed roster of educators serving as club sponsors, including:

Elementary: John Huggins, Shelbi Stewart, Jennifer McClam

Junior: Kalyn Tyler, Kristy Padgett, Emily Simon

Senior: Jackee Johnston, August Stelzer, Amy Bradberry

If you’re interested in sponsoring our Beta Club students’ trip to Savannah, please get in touch with Jackee Johnston at or John Huggins at