Best of the Best

Published 9:12 am Thursday, May 28, 2009

MURFREESBORO – The best came to Hertford County Middle School again.

During their recent trip to the North Carolina Junior Beta Club state convention, two HCMS students claimed honors as the best in the state. Travis Gatling won first place for special talent and Tobias Hill won first place for speech.

Gatling sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” for special talent. He said he was humbled by being chosen as the state’s best.

“I’m really overwhelmed by it,” Gatling said. “It was kind of a surprise to me. The competition was tough, but I gave it my all.”

Gatling was also given the honor of opening the event with the National Anthem, a first for Hertford County Middle School. After he sang the song, Gatling received a standing ovation, something his sponsor, Renee Tyree, said she had never seen.

Hill’s speech was titled “Life’s a Stage” and he was also honored by his selection as the state’s top speaker.

“I count it as a blessing from God,” he said. “When I got up there I was nervous. When Ms. Tyree came in and said I won, I felt like running up and down the hall.”

Both young men said they were excited about the possibility of competing, but didn’t know if they had an opportunity to actually win.

“It’s not unreachable, but it certainly isn’t something you hear every day,” Gatling said.

“It was shocking for me because the judges seemed so mesmerized when I was giving my speech,” Hill added.

The victories at the state level mean both young men will be competing in the National Beta Convention in Orlando, Florida next month.

“This is the fourth year we have competed and the third we have won something while at the state level,” HCMS Principal Carson Watford said. “It also gives us a chance to participate at the national level. I’m highly pleased with the accomplishments.”

Watford said the work done by the children couldn’t have been successful without the work of Tyree and Shaunda Vaughan, who serve as the sponsors for Jr. Beta Club.

In addition to the two new students who won awards, a student from the Hertford County Ninth Grade Success Academy took her position as state Vice President. Destiny Britt led one general session and gave a keynote and farewell speech during her tenure.

Britt was elected last year when she was a student at Hertford County Middle School.