Daily News photo/JOHN EBY A Dowagiac Rotary Club committee helped organize an Interact service club for Union High School. From left at the Oct. 23 charter meeting in the DUHS media center are: Phil Esarey; Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel, who advised such a club when he was in the Fort Wayne, Ind., area; club President Barbara Groner, charter President Lauren Krueger, a senior who was exposed to Interact while attending RYLA leadership camp a year ago; Principal Paul Hartsig, who will advise the club; and past president Don Woodhouse.

Archived Story

Interact Club chartered at DUHS

Published 6:06pm Sunday, October 23, 2011

Southwest Michigan’s 10th Interact club was chartered Sunday afternoon at Union High School with Past District Gov. Don Frohm of Jackson and Tom Faulkner of Berrien Springs representing the soon-to-be 58 clubs of Rotary District 6360.
DUHS Principal Paul Hartsig advises the new service club led by President Lauren Krueger, Vice President Hope Daniel, Secretary Craig Zebell, Treasurer Emily Smith and Directors Maggie Cripe and Kristyn Turner.
Twenty-six students from all four classes include charter members from the organizational meeting April 19 and new since the 2011-2012 school year (*): Kelsey Cleveland, Rylie Cox (*), Margaret Cripe, Hope Daniel, Whitney Donaldson (*), Caitlyn Frechette (*), Carley Gentry, Martha Gibson (*), Carl Grant, Allison Hassle (*), Samantha Hess (*), Courtney Hunsberger  (*), Lauren Krueger, Paul Lamphere (*), Julian Marshall (*), Paloma Medina, Nathan Michael, Zoe Michael (*), Caroline Mitchell (*), Kelsie Primley (*), Emily Smith, Lindsey Smith, Tori Smith (*), Kristyn Turner, Kaitlyn Ward (*) and Craig Zebell.
Interact will meet twice a month after school, one with a program and one as a work session.
Interact originated a year ago when Dowagiac Rotary Club sent Lauren Krueger and Emily Smith to RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) camp.
“Goals for our Interact club are simply to make a difference by serving our community and world,” Emily said. “We will seek to accomplish this by completing projects that are relevant to needs in three areas we have chosen — the hungry in our community, our troops overseas and an international project. Our first project will be completed next weekend (Sunday, Oct. 30, 2-5 p.m.). Our Interact club will be trick-or-treating for canned food. We plan to go door to door and we’ll have drop-off boxes at the high school and at Family Fare. This is an opportunity to present a positive image of youth in our community. Our second project will be collecting CDs in Tunes for Troops to send to service people so they’ll have something to listen to while they’re over there. Our international project will be gathering items for a shelter box. This is designed to help the needy in other countries when there is a disaster. A shelter box contains basic necessities like a tent, pots and pans, a lighter. Our Interact club is a great opportunity to develop service and leadership skills. We hope to encourage other students to join as they see what is accomplished this year.”
“When we went to RYLA camp, I had heard of Rotary, but I did not know much about what it was,” Lauren said. “At the camp we learned a lot about what Rotary is and a lot about leadership. When I got home, I was really interested in Interact, so I researched it a lot. Once I really figured out what Interact was, I wanted to start one in our school. I thought it would be really good for our school because we didn’t have anything like it. I went to our principal, Mr. Hartsig, and our superintendent, Dr. Daniel, to see if they would support me and help me start the club.”
Paul Hartsig was in the process of becoming a Rotarian and Mark Daniel had started and advised an Interact club at his old school district in the Fort Wayne, Ind., area.
There was a 40-page handbook to review.
“The first step was to get Rotary support,” so Lauren consulted then-President Don Woodhouse.
The club formed an Interact committee.
To get prospective members to explore the opportunity, “We bribed them with food,” Lauren said. “Pizza for lunch or cookies and pop. The ones you see today are the ones who weren’t just in it for the food. On April 19, 2011, was our first organized meeting. Whoever was there was considered a charter member. We also elected our board. That’s when it really started feeling like we had an Interact club.
“I’m grateful to be included in the Rotary family. It’s an honor for us. Rotary has been such a big part of my life this past year, so I could not be more happy to finally have a Dowagiac Union High School Interact club.”
Lauren quoted Paul Harris, the Chicagoan who founded Rotary International in 1905, when she said, “What one man can do directly himself is so little. If, however, he can stir up 10 others to take up the task, he has accomplished much.”
Vice President Hope Daniel explained Interact, “A youth service organization sponsored by Rotary International for young people ages 12 to 18. Interact focuses on community service and building goodwill throughout the world. Like Rotary International, Interact adheres to service above self. Interact clubs must have a local service project as well as an international service project every year. These projects not only serve others, but help develop leadership skills as well as relationships. Each Interact club is sponsored by a local Rotary Club. Ours is Dowagiac Rotary Clubs. These sponsorships provide support and guidance, as well as networking opportunities. As Interact members serve others, they will reap the rewards of their good work.”
Rotary President Barbara Groner, who installed officers and previously gave a gavel, said, “It’s a great pleasure to be here and to be part of the launching of this wonderful youth club.”
Frohm, presenting the Certificate of Organization as chairman of the district New Generations Committee, said, “This is really a big deal. This is not something these  young adults should take for granted, nor should you as parents. Rotary is a worldwide organization in 200 countries with more than 34,000 Rotary clubs like the one here in Dowagiac. Our district, 6360 has 57, with club 58 chartered at the end of this month. In my opinion, forming an Interact club is far more important than the chartering of a Rotary club. Our youth are our future. In your hands rest the future of your community, our state and our nation. That’s a heady task you are facing. But this and RYLA leadership camp are all learning tools available to you through Rotary. I encourage each of you to consider our youth exchange program, which is our third youth program. It will enable you to spend a year studying abroad and is very cost-effective for parents because it’s supported by volunteer Rotarians. We work cheap. It’s called free, but we enjoy what we do. The motto of Rotary is service above self, which has deep meaning in all of our hearts. We do what we do to support not only youth as our youth, but also our individual communities through our various projects. During my year as governor, I asked every club president to turn in the projects their club completed in the prior three years and in line to complete during their year as president. There were more than 500 in our district and an additional 200 that were going to be completed that year. Rotarians are grateful for the communities they live and work hard to support them. We’re proud you’ve joined our family. Lauren deserves a tremendous amount of credit.”
Dr. Daniel presented Lauren with the club banner, a Four-Way Test (Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?) banner and bell to start meetings. “I hope it grows and grows and grows because we have many things we can accomplish. This is an opportunity for you to improve your school, your community and internationally. I see this on three fronts. I probably had to go to that Four-Way Test several times this past week, if you know what I mean.”
Groner said nine existing Interact clubs are: Galesburg-Augusta, sponsored by Cereal City Sunrise Rotary Club; Coldwater High School, Coldwater Noon Rotary Club;  Waverly School Rotary Club, Delton-Waverly; Eaton Rapids; Grand Ledge; Hastings, Jonesville; DeWitt High School, Lansing DeWitt Sunrise Rotary Club; Portage Rotary Club sponsors a dual Interact club between two high schools which meet in a third location; Portage Central and Portage Northern share an Interact club; and White Pigeon, which started eight years ago with 14 members and has grown to more than half of the high school population.
“You have a good beginning and a long way to go,” Groner said.

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