The Chatelech Secondary School Interact Club has a tough act to follow.
The club’s current president, Skylar Moore, recently accepted a Platinum Citation from Rotary International on behalf of last year’s club. It’s the highest such award an Interact Club can receive.
“It is a giant achievement,” says Tanya Hall, the Rotary Club of Sunshine Coast’s Interact liaison along with Marg Green of the Sechelt Rotary Club.
But Moore doesn’t seem particularly worried.
“Last year was awesome. But I think we are going to do OK. There were a lot of Grade 12s last year. We lost half our club at graduation. But there are a lot of new members, younger students. They have a lot of energy.”
Last year’s accomplishments, under the leadership of president Isurika Bandara, who has gone on to university, is impressive. Not only did the Interact members help out at Rotary events (you may have enjoyed a burger served by them at Rotary’s Canada Day barbecue or the Lehigh Open House), they also raised $2,100 to help send kids to school in Ndandini, Kenya.
Packing groceries at IGA in exchange for donations got the fundraising rolling. A bottle drive netted $1,400 in one day. The Interact Club also worked with the grad committee to put on a dance and haunted house for Halloween, raising $2,000 for Free the Children.
Meanwhile, there were clothing drives and food drives for the food bank. There was even a drive to fill baby bags for new moms.
That’s a lot of drive, and Moore intends to build on it. The club is continuing to raise money to support the Ndandini project, and it has also added an impressive new project.
“We are going to be doing a lot of fundraisers focused on Mexico.” The Interactors are planning to spend their spring break near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. But they are not going there to party; they are going to help build a new orphanage.
How much money are they going to need? “Lots,” Hall says bluntly.
Some of that money will come from the club’s Mexican Mondays, where it sells burritos, jalapeño poppers and other goodies to Chatelech students during lunch hour. But that effort will raise only 10 per cent of the needed funds, Hall says. Many other fundraisers are being planned.
“You will be absolutely energized if you spend any time with our Interactors,” says Darcy Long, whose term as Rotary District Governor recently ended. “They get an idea, they run with it. We all should be more like that. They just get on with it.”
This is Moore’s third year in Interact. The Grade 12 student joined because, she says, “I wanted to step outside of just my school when it comes to helping out. I love it. I get to connect with other youths who share the same interests. We share happiness.”
The club currently has about 30 members. “Some people may be reluctant to join because they think the club is a lot of work,” Moore says. “They can see the members are all very involved. But the group is very open and welcoming, and you can just dip your toe in if you want.
“I have seen Interact change people for the better. People who were shy and maybe had few friends – the club helped them go out of their comfort zone.”
Megan Kraus, now in Grade 10, has been a member since Grade 8.
“I enjoy helping people. It is a lot of fun hanging out with my friends in the club, but we are also doing interesting things, and we are learning networking and leadership skills,” Kraus says.
The club also gives students an opportunity to fulfill their graduation requirement to put in 40 volunteer hours in service to their community.
Hall was a charter member of the Chatelech Interact Club as a high school student in 1993.
“Why did I help start the club? For the same reasons I am in Rotary. It’s like the world’s best-kept secret. But it shouldn’t be kept a secret.”
Interested students or parents can contact Hall at email@example.com or go to Room 111 at lunch on any Thursday and sit in on a meeting.
– Submitted by David Connors