FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 3, 2016) -- Education at Fort Rucker schools is more that just about teaching students their ABCs -- it's also about cultivating leaders.

That's why Fort Rucker Elementary School is giving its students the opportunity to be part of the National Beta Club, so that they can have the best chance at becoming the best leaders they can be, according to Katie Nelsen, FRES school and club facilitator.

"Beta Club recognizes student leaders," said Nelson. "They are recognized for not only their academic prowess, but they are encouraged to be involved in their choice of community and extra-curricular activities. In doing so, they are given opportunities to develop a multitude of skills, as well as an awareness of how these skills and interests can be used to benefit their world."

The FRES National Junior Beta Club was chartered in the fall of 2015 with 20 students inducted in its charter year -- 10 members in Division 1 and 10 in Division 2. The school held its second induction ceremony in mid-May at the school during the Rainbow Induction ceremony where 53 new members were inducted.

Membership into the club is based on teacher recommendations, said Nelsen, and with an induction into the club, each member must maintain an A or B grade average, and exemplify the traits of good citizenship and leadership.

"(Students) are also expected to perform two hours of community service monthly," she said. "The motto of the National Beta Club is 'Let Us Lead By Serving Others,' and these students are expected to do exactly that."

In the past, students have volunteered their time for Big Bend Wildlife, various animal shelters, churches and neighborhood projects, said Nelson. The club has also collected over 200 books for victims of the Elba floods, as well as researched the suggested names for the new school and performed presentations online.

Those hours of volunteerism and time working on projects are vital to fostering a sense of teamwork and leadership skills, said Dr. Vicki Gilmer, FRES principal.

"It is so important to not only develop the minds of our youth but to also instill in them the importance of character, leadership and service to others," said the principal. "At Fort Rucker Elementary School we believe and model the Beta's mission statement, which states that we will promote the ideals of academic achievement, character, service and leadership among elementary and secondary school students.

"(We) were honored to become a National Beta School of Merit in our first year," she said. "This is a tremendous honor and we are thrilled that FRES reached national merit status, which is a true indication of our dedication to academic excellence and leadership development."

The National Beta Club was founded in 1934 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and currently there are more than 450,000 active members in more than 8,750 clubs nationally and internationally, according to the club's website, www.betaclub.org. It has become the nation's largest independent, non-profit, educational youth organization.