This story first appeared in the July 14 issue of the Community Voice. For your own subscription, call 270-384-9454.
Raegan Atwood knew her photo for the National BETA Convention had a good chance to do well against some of the best competitors. The Adair County Middle School student won the state title in Black and White Photography earlier this spring with a picture of her dog laying across the tailgate of a truck.
That win earned her a spot to compete in the national tournament and last week, she took her photo to Nashville to face the best in the country. Atwood, who will start seventh grade in a few weeks, finished sixth overall.
“I was very nervous,” Atwood said. “There was a lot of pressure when I went into the (com- petition) room when I first got there. I saw all these other pictures and thought ‘wow, those are really good.’ I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of this. The other photos were amazing.”
The competition was held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Atwood’s picture, with a description on the back, was placed in a big meeting room with the other competitors in the division. Judges came through the room, judged each photo, and then rendered a decision.
BETA is an organization based on academics, as students must have a grade point average of 3.0 to be able to compete. There are regional competitions in multiple divisions. Students who fare well at the regional competition advance to the state. Those winners go to nationals.
Atwood joined the ACMS BETA team following encouragement from teacher Angel Woodrome.
“I knew the teachers involved really well and it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun,” Atwood said. “Growing up I always loved to take pictures. I was always taking pictures of myself and other things, so I picked that category.
“My dog means a lot to me because I am always with her and she is my best friend. She was laying on the bed of a truck, I saw it, and took the picture. She is not really a photogenic dog, but she was laying there so we took the picture.”
She said she thought she did a good job composing the photo, but she laughed that everyone seems to love animals.
Woodrome, an Adair County Middle School teacher and BETA sponsor, said she was proud of Atwood’s accomplishment. She said Atwood’s photo was good enough to win, in her mind.
“I just love her picture,” Woodrome said. “I think her love for photography stands out, and she is developing a good eye for photography. She’s very creative.”
Woodrome said she believes Atwood’s high national finish will help draw more attention to the local BETA program, which she hopes will create more participation.
By Scott Wilson