Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 1, 2013

Building leaders

Beta Club conference’s empathy luncheon teaches students how to know others

RACELAND — Trying to communicate without talking can be frustrating, Alex Roy learned Tuesday.

For about an hour, the Raceland eighth-grader had to depend on a note pad and her own devices to make her way through a gymnasium full of other kids and get to the lunch buffet table.

“It took a whole new way of thinking,” she said after the no-speech command was lifted.

Alex was not the only one dealing with a temporary affliction; all 180 of the kids assembled for a Beta Club conference wrestled with one faux handicap or another; some wore blindfolds, some were tied together, and others had their thumbs taped down.

Besides coping with their own adversities, the students were expected to assist one another in navigating their way through the hour.

What moderator Thomas Dismukes called an empathy luncheon was an exercise in learning what makes other people tick. In a larger sense it was about knowing people in order to make effective leadership decisions, and about getting in touch with one’s own inner resources.

Beta Club sponsors Heather Music and Zenaida Smith brought the motivational speaker in for a two-day conference to prepare them for life outside their Raceland cocoon. “We want them to step out of their comfort zones. We live in our own little world of Raceland where we are used to our peers and friends,” Music said.

But the purpose of the club is to groom future leaders through service and academic achievement, so they will need to test themselves, according to Music.

That was where Dismukes’ approach and the empathy luncheon came in. “We’re trying to make them miserable. We learn more from miserable situations. The more miserable we can make them the more they can grow,” he said.

The empathy exercise leads to growth in patience, helpfulness and self-sacrifice, all of which are leadership qualities, he said.

Later, Dismukes led a raucous round of Simon Says, the laughter underscoring a serious point each time players were forced out of the game. “Take responsibility. Losers make excuses,” he said. “Don’t you dare make excuses. You live and die by the choices you make.”

The Beta Club, which at Raceland includes students from fifth through 12th grades, has proven to be highly popular and a powerful academic motivator, Smith said.

Among requirements for joining is a 3.5 grade-point average, and to remain in the club from year to year requires maintaining at least a 3.2 average, Music said.

And interested students are tracking their grades more closely to ensure they qualify, according to Smith. “The kids understand what is required and are taking more ownership of their successes and failures,” she said.

Beyond that, she has noticed an upswing in the sincerity with which students approach the service component. “They’re living up to the spirit of the club and the school,” she said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

Text Only
Local News
  • Golden Corral sends children to camp

    Ashland’s Golden Corral teamed with other restaurants across nation this year to raise $1.5 million to send a total of 3,000 children to Camp Corral.

    July 24, 2014

  • Burglars steal golf gear

    A couple of golf enthusiasts might not make their tee times Saturday because burglars stole golf equipment from their garages.

    July 24, 2014

  • Music instructor claims age discrimination

    The Russell Independent School District is denying allegations of a former band director who claims in a lawsuit the district discriminated against him because of his age.

    July 24, 2014

  • Financial blunder leads to heated board discussion

    In a surprising turn of events, City Manager Ben Bitter’s supervision authority was challenged by the Board of Commissioners after Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs filed a motion to have legal and finance department heads also report to the board in light of a financial blunder by Bitter.
    Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and City Attorney Richard “Sonny” Martin confirmed a new ordinance will be drafted so the department heads of finance and legal counsel will be checked by the board, in addition to Bitter’s current oversight.

    July 24, 2014

  • Stricter enforcement, diagonal spots endorsed to help downtown

    A group of business owners operating along Winchester Avenue — Ashland’s main thoroughfare — asked the Ashland Board of Commissioners to replace current parallel parking spots with diagonal ones, and also for more strick enforcement of a two-hour parking law.

    July 24, 2014

  • National act takes stage at Boyd County Fair

    The Building of Dreams erupted into screams Thursday night at the 2014 Boyd County Fair, as country music fans saw Bucky Covington take the stage.
    According to Ellen Keaton, fair board president, Covington was a favorite on season five of Fox’s talent competition series American Idol.

    July 24, 2014

  • Smoke-free advocates bound for Ashland

    Advocates for smoke-free public spaces are touring the state, starting in Ashland, to drum up support for anti-tobacco legislation they hope to pass next year.
    Smoke-Free Kentucky is a coalition of organizations and people who support a ban on smoking in all public and work places in Kentucky.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ohio State Band Direc_Mayn.jpg Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and participate in sexually themed stunts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grimes has pep rally before energetic Democrats

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was preaching to the Democratic choir Thursday night at the Wendell Ford Dinner attended by about 700 here.

    July 24, 2014

  • Commissioners challenge city manager’s authority

    In a surprising turn of events, City Manager Ben Bitter’s supervision authority was challenged by the Board of Commissioners after Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs filed a motion to have legal and finance department heads also report to the board in light of a financial blunder by Bitter.

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone