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West Hall students serve the community for a week
Beta Club members volunteer to clean park, help with landscape project
West Hall High School student Hannah Wetzel picks up old bottles and cans Monday morning in the woods near the parking lot at Burton Mill Park in Flowery Branch. Wetzel and fellow Beta Club members kicked off day one of their week of service of removing litter from the park.

A lot of Smirnoff bottles, beer cans, smokeless tobacco cans and “really gross” trash were among the items found at Burton Mill Park in Flowery Branch as Beta Club members at West Hall High School started a week of service at various places around the county.

About 13 club members in groups of two to four were picking up trash at the park Monday. Another group of students were at Eagle Ranch preparing for a landscaping project. Other service locations included Willowood Nursing Home, the Salvation Army, Challenged Child & Friends, Backpack Love and Georgia Mountain Food Bank.

The club decided to do the service week this year to coincide with National Beta Club Week. Club members attended the state Beta Club convention in Atlanta over the weekend.

Students at Burton Mill collected about a dozen bags of trash by late Monday morning and planned another pass before the day was over. Among the other items collected were a beach ball, an arrow and pieces of Styrofoam.

West Hall High School English teacher Susan Wiggs, who said she was a Beta Club member in high school, accompanied the group at the park.

Beta Club sponsor Jennifer Chittaro said the group’s officers compiled a list of 23 potential volunteer locations at a lunch meeting. They divided up the venues and called to see about the schedule.

“They all did a fantastic job of finding organizations to visit by calling them and coordinating between both their adults in charge and myself,” Chittaro said in an email.

She said the week of service activities was “prompted” by Shenlee Rountree, the school’s Work-Based Learning coordinator and Youth Leadership Hall coordinator. Rountree organized a group to work at Habitat High, which is a course in the system for juniors and seniors who work on Habitat for Humanity houses four days a week.

Chittaro said the club also sponsors a faculty and staff appreciation breakfast during the week, and the sponsors hand out ice cream to all club members one day.

The Beta Club has 147 active members. It has been a club of distinction two of the past three years, meaning its membership has increased by 10 percent in those years, Chittaro said.

Service projects during the year include a national project for Muscular Dystrophy Association, a state project for American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the local project for Jenny’s Garden at the school.