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1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Dr. Vicky Gilmer, Ellis D. Parker Elementary School principal, presents Ashlyn Lenz the National Beta Club John W. Harris Leadership Award during a ceremony at the Fort Rucker school May 11. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Hailey Halterman receives her award at the ceremony. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Courtney McKiver receives her awards at the ceremony. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jackson Boenker receives his awards at the ceremony. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Current members help induct new members into the Parker Elementary School Beta Club at the ceremony. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New members take the pledge to join the Beta Club. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- An Ellis D. Parker Elementary School sixth grader is one of five Beta Club members nationwide to earn the John W. Harris Leadership Award for 2021-22.

Ashlyn Lenz received the award at the National Beta Club Induction Ceremony at the school May 11 that also saw three other students from Parker Elementary receive the statewide Beta Club awards they earned, according to Dr. Vicki Gilmer, school principal.

“Despite the pandemic, the Parker Elementary School Beta Club continued with its mission to proudly promote academic achievement, strong character, dedicated leadership and compassionate service,” the principal said. “Parker Elementary School also participated in the state competition for the first time and had many members place in several events. It is with great honor and pride that we recognize our members who placed in the Alabama State Beta Convention.”

Courtney McKiver won first place in language arts in sixth grade, and second place in science.

Jackson Boenker won fifth place in language arts for fifth grade, and Boenker and Hailey Halterman won third place in the Technology Elementary Division.

These victories at the state level provide an opportunity for the winners to compete at the national level, as well, Gilmer added. The Beta National Convention will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, this summer.

Lenz will also be recognized at the national convention, as well as receive tuition for the Beta Leadership Camp in July, the principal said.

Holly Seales, Alabama Junior Beta State sponsor, music teacher at Rehobeth Elementary School in Dothan and guest speaker at the event, provided some insight on why Lenz was selected as one of the top Beta members nationwide.

“Ashlyn Lenz is described as an exceptional person,” Seales said. “She is virtuous, intelligent, talented, determined, humble and a leader among her peers. Ashlyn is a student who possesses a remarkable work ethic. She leads by example with a heart of pure gold and truly enjoys helping others. Along with numerous school activities, service projects and extracurricular functions, Ashlyn maintains an A average and, furthermore, she rises to any challenge and does so with enthusiasm, a sense of duty and an unwillingness to be satisfied with anything less than what is the best.

“This dedication has earned Ashlyn the highest respect from her family, her peers and her teachers,” she added. “Her character and leadership skills have also earned her the highest and most prestigious award that is recognized by the National Beta Club. Each year, only five junior Beta members are chosen from hundreds of nominations that come from across the nation as recipients of this prestigious award.”

The gathered crowd’s attention was then drawn to current club members inducting new members into the club.

Inducted were: Jude Cannon, Lily Castillo, Zoe Craig, Hannah Johnson, Silas Johnson, Edward McKiver, Abram Medina, Ethan Proffitt and Camilla Tarpey from the fourth grade; and Macy Dishman, Isabella Dunn, Brooklynn Emery, Alessandra Francis, Audrey Griger, Emiliano Pedrego and Hope Wilson from the fifth grade.

Gilmer thanked the Beta Club members, and also Suzette Hilton and Wanda Wilds, Beta Club sponsors at the school, for their efforts.

“This is an extra duty for them, and they have done it willingly – and not only have they done it willingly, they have done it tremendously well,” the principal said. “We competed for the first time … and look at the results of that effort. Thank you very much for your wonderful effort with our kids.

“Not only is the Beta Club about your service and about your character,” she said to the students, “but it is also a reflection of who you are as an individual. Moms and dads, I want thank you for that. These kids didn’t become great kids just by themselves – they became great kids because you put the effort into them and have shown them the kind of people that you want them to be. Their character has reflected that, and that is why they have been chosen for this wonderful honor. Thank you for raising wonderful people.

“Boys and girls, I am proud of you – congratulations! From now on, you will be a Beta – a big honor to carry with you throughout your life,” Gilmer added.