When Tasha Dial, bookkeeper at North Carolina’s Upchurch Elementary, saw how hard her school’s Beta Club was working, she knew they deserved a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The team of fourth and fifth graders had spent their time showing leadership, keeping grades up, helping the community, preparing for Quiz Bowl, and all-around going the extra mile.
“And they’ve never complained,” Dial said. “I mean, they have a newsletter that comes out every month telling what the kids have done, a lot of after school activities and helping do things on campus.”
Now, it was time for the National Beta Convention at the Swan Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. But Dial knew their fundraising efforts could use an extra push, so she went online. “A lot of our area is low-income students, and we are actually a Title I school. We knew parents couldn’t afford for them to go. They began a fundraiser, and I just kept surfing the web. You know, ‘There has to be something that we can find, a scholarship or grant or something that we can find to help these kids get to go.’ Because they had really worked hard.”
Her search landed on SYTA Youth Foundation’s Road Scholarship, a grant established in 2002 to award funds to youth who are unable to afford the cost of student group trips. It was just what they needed, so she nominated the group and crossed her fingers.
Soon after, Upchurch Beta Club’s efforts were recognized, and they were selected to be the Road Scholar recipient. The June trip was on.
The parents provided a place to stay, while the scholarship helped the students actually travel and enjoy Universal Studios Theme Park, with their own money for food and treats. The students even put “#SYTARoadScholar” on the back of their group shirts.
Of course, the main event was the National Beta Convention, hosting Beta Club students from all around the country. The convention had performances, art competitions, Quiz Bowl, and more. In the end, Upchurch placed nationally in three categories: 6th in the Written Quiz Bowl, 8th in the Oral Quiz Bowl, and 9th in the Recycled Art show. On top of all that, they were recognized onstage as a “School To Watch” by the National Beta Sponsors.
“They were able to realize they were competing on a national level,” Dial said. “Not only were they able to travel and meet kids from all over, they competed with far more kids on this level than at the state level.”
Since returning, the kids are right back to work with fundraisers and helping out around the school and community—but they’ve also expressed how fun the trip was and how special it was to experience the national convention.
“I just feel like it’s important for our children to have the opportunity to travel outside of the area in which they live,” Dial said. “They need to be able to experience that you can achieve your hopes and dreams. If you work hard, there are people that care about you, that want to see you go further in life.”
This story originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of Teach & Travel.