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.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Local counties see drop in unemployment

    Boyd County was one of 117 counties that saw a decrease in its unemployment rate between June 2013 and June 2014.
     

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726bigboy.JPG Big Boy to open Aug. 11

    The long-awaited Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant will open Aug. 11, and when it does it will be business as usual from day one: the eatery will open its doors to the early breakfast crowd at 6:30.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SOAR meeting at MSU Aug. 6

    Morehead State University and St. Claire Regional Medical Center will present Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers as part of a "Health Impact Series" under the new Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative.
     

    July 27, 2014

  • MSU moving business admin. program online

    Morehead State University’s School of Business Administration has announced its bachelor of business administration degree in computer information systems has moved totally online beginning the fall 2014 semester.
     

    July 27, 2014

  • Thefts, fraud reported to APD

    The following information was taken from Ashland Police Department reports:
     

    July 27, 2014

  • Raceland couple join Peace Corps

    A couple from Raceland will travel to the Republic of Botswana on Aug. 10 to begin training as volunteers in the Peace Corps.

    July 27, 2014

  • Missing Boyd inmate returns to jail

    The Boyd County inmate who walked away from a work detail on Saturday turned himself back in to the Boyd County Detention Center on Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0728MoreheadMusic_1457.jpg Hills alive with Old Time Music

    The hills surrounding Morehead were alive again this weekend with the sounds of fiddles, banjos and deep Appalachian voices that help keep old time mountain music alive in a modern world.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bill Clinton coming to eastern Kentucky to stump for Grimes

    By RONNIE ELLIS
    CNHI News Service

    GLASGOW — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    July 27, 2014

  • Tim Preston: Veterans, doughnuts, hog legs and jerky of squid: 7/27/14

    Are there any talented wreath makers reading this column?

    July 27, 2014