Eleven high schoolers from Anna took top honors at the Texas Senior Beta Club Convention this past February and will represent their school at the National Beta Club Convention this June.

Senior Michelle Larriva took first place in the mixed media art competition with her charcoal drawing of a tree. The piece of artwork has ties to club, because she said the inspiration behind it came from a trip she took with Beta Club the first year she joined.

“My sophomore year of Beta we went and visited the Alamo and there was this really cool like twisted tree — I believe it’s call the Big Tree — and I took a picture of it,” she said. “And then in my art class I drew it in white charcoal on black paper and that’s what I entered and won.”

The artwork took Larriva more than 40 hours to create.

Another student going to nationals is Juan Sanchez, president of the Anna Beta Club, who earned third place in Spanish Division 2.

“It’s a competition that’s basically an SAT-type test where you read articles in Spanish and then they ask you questions about it in Spanish as well,” he said.

Sanchez considers himself a native Spanish speaker — both his parents speak the language at home — and he learned both English and Spanish at the same time, but even for him the test wasn’t easy.

At the state convention students could participate in talent, art and academic competitions.

This year’s national convention will be held in Orlando, Florida, on June 29 – July 2.

Students who place in the top three spots in each compeition qualify to compete at the national convention. Other students from Anna High School who qualified are:

Madison Hemenway, Kaleigh Terry, Jillian Vargas, and Melanie Hunter placed third in Club Trading Pins.

Devin O’Neal placed second in Creative Writing Division 2.

Trenten Wilson, Haley Thornburg, and Riley Stockton placed third in Fresh Look at Beta.

Pamela West placed third in Art Sculpture.

Beta Club is more than just art and academic competitions, though. To be in the club students must keep an A average in all their classes and meet minimum community service requirements.

Sanchez said that’s why he joined the club.

“I really enjoy helping others,” he said. “Helping our community, and while we do that we do projects as a group and you grow so much as a leader and in friendships as well.”

Stephanie Bristol is one of the teachers who sponsors the club. She said this year their club received several distinctions.

“For the past two years we have been recognized as a School of Distinction, meaning that we have students that are active participants in all four grade levels,” she said. “Which is a feat especially getting some of our freshman kiddos involved.”

This year the Anna club also received the Golden Key Award, which means that membership in the club has grown by more than 10 percent since last year’s state convention.

“Last year we are at around 30 something members and now we are at 52,” Bristol said. “So we almost doubled our club size.”

Last year, no students from the club qualified for nationals and the year before five students qualified but none were able to go because not enough money was raised to take them.

This year it will cost $600 per student to attend the convention. Bristol said the school told students if they qualified for nationals the school would fundraise to help them come up with money to attend.

To donate contact stephanie.bristol@annaisd.org.