New club allows students to earn academic letter

Epsilon Beta, a statewide reading club, forms with sponsorship from Mrs. Hauquiz, Mrs. Head

Jack Hiegel, Staff reporter

A chapter of Epsilon Beta, a statewide club for high school students interested in reading, has been set up in our school.  The group, sponsored by Mrs. Kelly Hauquitz and Mrs. Andrea Head, meets in the Learning Commons on the second Thursday of each month.

The club, which was created in 1931 in Washington, Mo., emphasizes the importance of reading and library learning commons.  To do this, Epsilon Beta allows students to earn an academic letter in reading by participating in the organization.

In order to earn their academic letters, students must earn 35 points in Epsilon Beta.  According to Mrs. Hauquitz, students can earn these points in a variety of ways.

“We have committees for them to help plan reading activities.  They can also vote for next year’s Gateway Nominees,” Mrs. Hauquitz said.

The Gateway Nominees are a group of books that high schoolers can read and vote for which one they like best.  According to Mrs. Head, joining Epsilon Beta has more benefits aside from the academic letter.  These benefits include giving back to the community through service projects as well as becoming a better reader.

“It is a service group for readers.  It combines reading with community service, which are two very important things.  These skills can assist students now and later in life and make them more well-rounded,” Mrs. Head said.

Mrs. Hauquitz and Mrs. Head first discovered the group two years ago at the Missouri State Librarian Conference.

“At the meeting, there was this lady who came up and talked about Epsilon Beta.  I wasn’t at FHC that year.  Both Mrs. Head and I thought an Epsilon Beta chapter would be good, so if I got the job here, which I did, we would get one at FHC,” Mrs. Hauquitz said.

Epsilon Beta has already started planning some activities around school, including Banned Book Week, which celebrates reading freedom by raising awareness of books that have been banned in other libraries around the country.  According to senior Zach Pugh, one of Epsilon Beta’s members, the group also held its first meeting.

“We just had a meeting to discuss what charities we were going to work with and what activities we were going to plan,” Pugh said.

Twenty students attended the group’s first general meeting on Thursday, Sept. 11, to discuss activities like Banned Book Week and charities like the Ronald McDonald House.  There were also a few more students who couldn’t attend that particular meeting who still seemed interested in joining the club.  According to Mrs. Hauquitz, that number is promising.

“I had five people come and tell me they couldn’t attend the meeting on Thursday, but they still wanted to be involved in the group.  If I get 25 people to join the first year, I’ll be satisfied,” Mrs. Hauquitz said.

The students in the organization have joined for a variety of reasons.  Some want to receive the academic letter, while others want to take on a leadership role in the group.  Some students, like junior Emily Stone, enjoy reading and the way that Epsilon Beta promotes it.

“Many people use movies or video games to escape into their own little world.  I think books allow you to do that, too,” Stone said.