Eas­ton High School In­ter­act Club tak­ing strides

The Star Democrat - - LOCAL - By KAYLA RI­VAS kri­vas@star­dem.com Star Demo­crat re­porter Chris Polk con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. @Kay­la_S­tarDem

EAS­TON — Mem­bers of the In­ter­act Club at Eas­ton High School are work­ing hard to earn their first of­fi­cial Ro­tary ci­ta­tion.

The club re­volves around lo­cal projects, aim­ing to pos­i­tively im­pact those in the com­mu­nity and be­yond. Ef­forts are fo­cused mainly on show­ing com­pas­sion for oth­ers, and fight­ing hunger, dis­ease and poverty.

In­ter­act Club mem­bers re­cently made it a point to in­crease com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Eas­ton Ro­tary Club.

“In the last few years that I’ve been ac­tive with In­ter­act, I’ve seen the club pro­duce ex­cel­lent lead­ers who are in­ter­ested in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in our com­mu­nity along with two sup­port­ive fac­ulty mem­bers, Jeremy Hill­yard and Heather An­drews,” Eas­ton Ro­tary Pres­i­dent Richie Wheat­ley said.

Hill­yard, who works in the EHS For­eign Lan­guage De­part­ment, said he has a big heart for ser­vice and was in Al­pha Phi Omega, a ser­vice fra­ter­nity, while at Susque­hanna Uni­ver­sity.

“The cur­rent club of­fi­cers are def­i­nitely step­ping up and in­creas­ing their lead­er­ship to be­come a self-sus­tained club,” he said.

An­drews, an EHS EOSL teacher, said she loves the

en­thu­si­asm the club’s mem­bers bring.

“To have a project, work on it, com­plete it and present it and see how it af­fects oth­ers, I think that’s key to this club and what makes it so im­por­tant,” An­drews said.

EHS se­nior and In­ter­act Club Pres­i­dent Mi­nahil Cheema had the club’s best in­ter­ests in mind upon her elec­tion from her prior po­si­tion as vice pres­i­dent.

“Ob­tain­ing a Ro­tary ci­ta­tion for the In­ter­act club was one of Pres­i­dent Mi­nahil Cheema’s main goals when she be­came pres­i­dent,”

Wheat­ley said. “This clearly shows her com­mit­ment that when stu­dents unite and take ac­tion to ac­com­plish cer­tain goals it can pro­duce a last­ing im­pres­sion on their school, com­mu­nity and most im­por­tantly them­selves.”

“It will help them in be­com­ing role mod­els to their peers,” he said.

The closer re­la­tion­ship be­tween both clubs re­sulted in In­ter­act co-spon­sor­ing the Rise Against Hunger event on Jan. 27 in the Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val build­ing. Through the help of many vol­un­teers, over 10,000 meals were

pack­aged in 90 min­utes.

Rise Against Hunger is a hunger-re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tion founded in 1998. Through the meal-pack­ag­ing pro­gram, it serves 74 coun­tries around the world.

The meals are de­liv­ered mostly to for­eign coun­tries, although they have been de­liv­ered to pro­vide dis­as­ter re­lief in the United States. They are of­fered free of charge to any child who wants them, but the catch is chil­dren have to come to school to get them.

The Rise Against Hunger event is EHS Se­nior and In­ter­act Club Vice Pres­i­dent Katie Allen’s fa­vorite.

“I al­ways come away from that day just think­ing of the dif­fer­ence that all of us made,” Allen said.

The In­ter­act Club aims for one project a month, and other ef­forts have in­cluded the Pink An­gel project, which spreads breast can­cer aware­ness. The club also as­sem­bles and hand-de­liv­ers care bags to the lo­cal can­cer cen­ter.

Club mem­bers also are en­gaged, af­ter an in­ter­view­ing process, with the Ro­tar y Youth Lead­er­ship Awards. In 2017, 13 stu­dents from EHS won first place for de­sign­ing a com­mu­nity ser­vice project called “Camp LIV.”

The project would pro­mote men­tal ill­ness aware­ness and was in­spired af­ter the loss of Christo­pher Bradley, an EHS foot­ball player whose team num­ber was 54. Bradley died in April 2017 when his car col­lided head-on with a tree.

Ad­di­tional projects in­clude work­ing with Acme to pack­age tur­keys, mak­ing Easter bas­kets for fam­i­lies and the Smile Project.

Elab­o­rat­ing on the lat­ter, EHS ju­nior and In­ter­act Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer Lilly Roser said stu­dents of vary­ing EHS English classes are as­signed to write in­spir­ing quotes on note­cards. All the cards were glued to­gether on a large piece of pa­per and dis­played in one of the school’s hall­ways.

Roser said the Smile Project is an ex­am­ple of how the club reaches out to oth­ers and shows com­pas­sion.

Fi­nally, the club works to in­still lead­er­ship skills in all of its mem­bers.

EHS ju­nior and In­ter­act Club Sec­re­tary Maryam Khalid said she once was ap­pre­hen­sive about pub­lic speak­ing, but thanks to In­ter­act, her po­si­tion as sec­re­tary is help­ing her push past it.

“I re­ally want oth­ers who fear pub­lic speak­ing to over­come it through In­ter­act and lead­er­ship po­si­tions,” Khalid said.

“We want to make sure ev­ery­one is a leader be­cause lead­ers cre­ate lead­ers, lead­ers don’t cre­ate fol­low­ers,” Cheema said.

With Cheema hav­ing at­tended RYLA, and Allen’s past in­volve­ment with a sim­i­lar group, Hugh O’Brien Youth Lead­er­ship, the of­fi­cers said they feel qual­i­fied to ex­pand their gath­ered lead­er­ship skills onto oth­ers.

In the fu­ture, the club hopes to ex­tend its com­mu­nity ser­vice to car­ing for an­i­mals, too.

In­ter­act Club mem­bers hand-de­liver care pack­ages to pa­tients at the Can­cer Cen­ter in Eas­ton.

Eas­ton High School’s In­ter­act sup­ports the Eas­ton Ro­tary at the Rise Against Hunger Event.

Fac­ulty mem­ber Jeremy Hill­yard poses along­side Eas­ton High School In­ter­act board and club mem­bers.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Pink An­gels the Eas­ton High School In­ter­act Club made for its Pink An­gels Project.

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