Beta Excellence

Gleason Senior Repeats First Place Performance at Beta Convention
Posted on 11/30/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Gleason Senior Repeats First Place Performance at Beta ConventionPlacing first in one of the competitions at the Tennessee Beta Club Convention is quite an achievement. Doing it twice in one’s high school career is a rare feat. But Gracie Long, a Gleason senior, did exactly that when she took first place in the Division II Speech event held in Nashville November 18-20.

Competing against other 11th and 12th grade students from across the state, she spoke on “The Bystander Effect” for 2 minutes and 47 seconds, just shy of the 3-minute cutoff point. Forgoing the use of flashcards, in her memorized speech, she tied the sociological effect often seen in medical emergencies or with witnesses to a crime to bullying.

“The more people who witness an event the less likely someone is going to report it because of the assumption that someone else will do it,” she explained of the theory she discovered in a dual enrollment class taught by Bethel University sociology instructor Stacie Freeman. In her written remarks, full bibliography, and her speech she explored how the same phenomena is true at school in cases of bullying.

Previously, she won with a speech on Student-Centered Learning. That was the speech she recently shared with the Weakley County School Board at their November meeting which was held at Gleason School a couple of weeks prior to the Convention.

The 17-year-old said she was grateful for the opportunity to practice speaking publicly before the competition.

“They weren’t judging but they are professionals and it helped settle my nerves,” she said of her experience at the board meeting.

Also contributing to her sense of well-being was the confidence she feels when dressing professionally and the practice she started with sponsors Amy and Lee Lawrence and continued with her competitors.

Her competition was also her audience. The Lawrences were not allowed in the room where the speeches were made. Approximately 30 other competitors and three judges were present.

Since speakers must assume a role in the audience once they are finished, Long says she was glad to be one of the first five to present.

“It was good to get it over with. I was happy to go before and not later because I had a lot of good competitors and had I heard them I might have messed up out of nerves,” she said.

Ultimately, the caliber of her competition led her to value the prize even more.

“When I got first place, it wasn’t just winning the prize but realizing ‘these people were really good’ and I got first,” she noted.

Reflecting on the experience, she expressed gratitude to the Lawrences, the competitors with whom she practiced and became friends, her family, and especially her mother who helped with research.

She is the daughter of Jennifer and Ed Long of Gleason and is applying to universities to pursue a career in Communications.

The Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville was the site for the state’s in-person Elementary, Junior, and Senior conventions. Having been completely virtual last year, the 2021 State Convention was offered as a hybrid event. This gave students the opportunity to compete either virtually or onsite. Winners at the state level can now compete at the national level. National Convention will also be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville during Summer 2022.

With more than 500,000 active members and 8,750 clubs nationally and internationally, National Beta has become the nation’s largest independent, non-profit, educational youth organization. National Junior Beta includes grades 4-8 and National Senior Beta includes grades 9-12. Visit for more information.

Gracie Long in the professional attire she donned for the speech
Gracie Long competed and won first place for the second time in her high school career in the Speech category at the state Beta Club Convention held recently at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. The 17-year-old senior was grateful for the practice she gained in speaking to the Weakley County School Board during their November meeting. She thinks her extra effort of preparing a written version of her speech with bibliography, memorizing the 2 minute and 47 second presentation and dressing professionally helped secure her first-place finish.

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