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Billings breakdown

“Which is the only high school that legally has two Key Clubs?”

By Dave Wohler, Indiana District Key Club administrator

“Which is the only high school that legally has two Key Clubs?” This was a common caucus question at both the Montana District and Key Club International Conventions.

The answer–Billings Senior High School in Billings, Montana. That high school hosted two Key Clubs–Billings Key Club and Yellowstone Key Club. Both were chartered in 1946 before Key Club International was well-established and developed its governing documents.

During my high school career, I had the privilege of belonging to Billings Key Club. At the time, Key Clubs were all male and not focused primarily upon service or leadership development. In reality, the clubs’ membership was a replication of the National Honor Society.

Billings and Yellowstone Key Club did provide service to the school and community as evidenced by the photo that inspired the March 2010 KEY CLUB magazine cover. The clubs also promoted awareness of the Great American Smokeout Day and Fire Prevention Week, enhanced school spirit by presenting school assemblies and sponsored after-game dances, as well as participated in community parades and other local celebrations.

I also had the privilege of service as faculty advisor to Billings Key Club. In that role I learned from a Key Club Lieutenant Governor, Brad Russell (whose father was the faculty advisor to the cross-town rival, Billings West High School), that Key Club existed elsewhere in the state, nation and world. From Brad and co-faculty advisor Gary Branae, I learned the true scope and breathe of what Key Club was about. 

Following the Key Club International Convention in Saint Louis in 1985, I became the Montana District Key Club administrator. In 1988 I moved from my Key Club volunteer position in Montana to Indianapolis to become part of the Key Club International staff. 

Today, I work with advisors like Gary Branae to support their efforts to make the Key Club experience possible to high school students around the globe. Hair and clothing styles have changed. The focus of the organization has shifted to leadership developed through community service. The membership is now co-ed. One constant is the commitment Key Club members have to one another and to their homes, schools and communities.