HAMLET — An upcoming indoor cornhole tournament will benefit the Hamlet Middle School Beta Club as they prepare to compete nationally in June at Disney World.
Ish Gomez, 8th grade math teacher and cosponsor of the HMS Beta Club said the students placed highly in more than 20 events at the state-level competition at the Sheraton Hotel in Greensboro last month.
“These are the 15 kids who were able to place in the top three in the state,” he said. “With being in the top three, they get the opportunity to move on to nationals at Disney World to enter the same competition, to be able to place in the top three in the nation.”
Gomez and three additional club advisors — Ashleigh Buie, Hayley Gordon and Andi Nordberg — spent long hours working with the students to help them prepare for the competition.
“It was very nerve wracking, but it was very exciting, also,” said club member Cameron Neeley. “I didn’t know if we were going to place or not, but we spent a lot of time working on this shirt. My competition was T-shirt design. And we spent a lot of afternoons working on the design and coming up with ideas. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off.”
Gabby Moore explained how the group created the T-shirt that won first place.
“When we created the T-shirt, we wanted to aim for the ‘Beta Above and Beyond’ theme, and we had a few ideas, but our final idea was the ‘Up’ logo,” Moore said. “And we wanted to make it our own. It’s a hand-drawn design that we submitted, and it won first place.”
The logo shows a young person in a super hero cape hanging onto a colorful collection of helium balloons and rising into the sky. In the center of the balloons is the Junior Beta Club logo. Even the fonts were hand-crafted.
Ahmad Shelton, who said he’d like to study marine biology after high school, was part of another team that competed in advertisement design.
“When you go there, you have a topic and you have to make a poster board or a scheme about it,” he said. “We had to go off of what we knew and what they gave us. We had to bring our own materials, but it was a random topic that we had to go off of.”
Meghan McKenzie said the theme they were given was “international growth.”
In another competition called “Spotlight Your Club,” Gisela Flores was proud the group she was working with placed third in the state for their project.
“We had to make a tri-fold board that would speak about everything that we do as part of Hamlet Middle School’s Junior Beta Club,” Flores explained.
Asked what the next step would be, Kaitlyn Huff spoke up.
“We’re going to Disney World,” she said. “We’ll work as hard as we did the first time.”
“They’re going to take the same projects they won with at the state and compete with winners from all 50 states,” Buie said. “All the winners are going to come in and have a chance to place at the national level. It’s the first time Hamlet Middle School has ever gone to nationals — since it’s been a middle school. It’s been nine years, and this is the first time we’ve placed in anything, to my knowledge.”
Kyler Lockey, an artist, placed 1st and 3rd for two pictures.
“I placed first in pastels and third in the painting,” she said, adding that she’s been working with art since she was three or four. She said most of her artwork is the result of inspiration from other things she has seen.
Aniya Robinson said one of her favorite things about the trip to Greensboro was mixing it up with her fellow club members.
“It was fun because we got closer to each other and got to really meet each other,” Robinson said. “Most of us don’t have classes together, so at Beta Club we got to choose our rooms with people — and some people got switched to my group that I didn’t know, like Kyler.”
“It brings us all together,” Jalice Copeland agreed. “And we get to put in our ideas and work together to be able to create our t-shirts and get first place.”
Josh Foster, who also competed in design, said he hopes to create video games as an adult.
“I’ve just always been fascinated by video games, how they do the graphics and how they make the games,” he said, adding he has enjoyed the Richmond County Schools Techie Kids camps in the summers.
Buie said she and her cosponsors and the Beta Club members are grateful to be in such a supportive school district, and that the money raised from the cornhole tournament will be used for “extras” while the kids are in Orlando.
“We want to help offset the cost of tickets to Disney,” she said. “They have a special rate for people who compete in the nationals. And it will help with food while we’re there. We’ll being staying in the Swan and Dolphin in the resort. The rates are good, so that when they’re not competing, they can go into the park and really reap the reward of being state winners. We’re very appreciative of the county for everything they’re doing for us as Beta. It is just wonderful.”
Billed as an “all ages event,” the cornhole tournament will feature two-player teams and triple elimination. The cost to play is $50 per team, and people can sponsor a hole for the same price. Checks should be made payable to Hamlet Middle School.
There will be cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place teams. There will be drinks and food available for purchase, and activities for kids.
Registration for the tournament is from 10 — 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 25 at Hamlet Middle School on 1406 McDonald Avenue.
For information, call Jeff Tyler at 910-995-1581.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673.