Vilonia High School student Drake Toll was voted into office by his peers to serve as the president for the National Beta Club.
Toll, the son of Phillip and April, was one of 36 students from Vilonia who traveled last week to Savannah, Georgia to take part in the 2018 National Beta Club Convention.
Toll, who has been a part of Beta Club since his 10th grade year, said the group spent their whole first day campaigning and at the end of the day, he gave his candidate speech in front of the 12,000 students in attendance.
The 17-year-old ran against 14 other potential presidents.
On the fourth day of the conference, Wednesday, the announcement was made.
Toll said he counted it up to 52 hours that sat between his speech and the winning selection.
Taking the state presidency, he said, was huge, and to have the opportunity to go to the conference itself was a cool experience alone — it was all 36 students’s first time to attend a national conference as well.
Toll said his parents were sitting in front of him during the announcement. He said, in his head, he had made a decision about what he would do if he won.
If his name was called, Toll said, he planned to reach out and hug his parents and then make his way to the stage.
As his name was called, though, he said he was so flustered all his plans went awry.
Toll said, laughing, that he jumped up, gave a big fist pump, hugged the charter bus driver and his sponsors husband and almost forgot to even acknowledge his parents.
The new president said Arkansas taking the win was a surprise as well; they weren’t supposed to win because other states outnumbered them in voting delegates.
The same situation occurred at the state convention at the beginning of the year.
Toll said regardless, they came out on top and pulled a David and Goliath story.
“It was the group effort that pulled us through,” he said.
As for what’s next, Toll packed his bags and traveled to Washington D.C. over the weekend.
While there — five days total — Toll will attend a leadership conference with his colleagues and others, tour the city, build relationships and more.
In addition, he said, he also had the chance to lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery on Monday.
“Very emotional and moving experience,” Toll told the Log Cabin Democrat.
Regarding taking on this role, he said he’s not nervous but actually confident knowing the drive he possesses and is ready to get started.
Toll said he believes it’s all about timing and knows God put him in this position to lead and is confident that he will help him do just that.
The young leader said he already has plans and goals ready to put into motion for the upcoming year including raising the number of attendance at next year’s convention and traveling to 18 major cities to speak to Beta Club students — it’s a big deal when a club gets a visit from the national president.
Toll said he’s looking forward to building diverse relationships with members and strengthening the ones he’s already started.