By Jordan Reichhardt, Key Club International trustee
Many of us, as we start the school year online, have found that staring at our classmates through a screen isn’t the same as sharing conversations and laughs in the classroom. School looks different for many Key Club members around the world, but as always, these amazing servant leaders are bringing positivity and enthusiasm to meet the challenges the coronavirus pandemic brings.
As students experience an array of situations, a spectrum of emotions follows. Bithiah Negusu from the Rocky Mountain District is going to school in-person and online. Leah Hill of the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District also is using a hybrid model. “I am nervous to be back in an environment where it is not as easy to contain the spread of COVID-19, but I am excited to see my friends after months of texts and Facetime calls,” she says.
For other students, school is fully online or fully in person. Ada Kuzugudenli from the Eastern Canada District says, “This upcoming school year, I will be taking my classes virtually for the safety of my family.” Natalie Winn, also of Wisconsin-Upper Michigan, is “hoping to have a mostly normal senior year even while wearing a mask.” Many Key Clubbers around the world mirror Winn’s enthusiasm in returning to school.
With all these different models of learning, students are having unique school experiences. Jessica Kalloor from the Rocky Mountain District says her school has only four classes each quarter. That means their classes are moving quickly, but Kalloor is excited about being back in school even with a difficult schedule.
No matter what school looks like for Key Club members across the globe, service activities are going to be carried out differently this year. But these ambitious student leaders aren’t letting that hold them back. Key Club members such as Avery Koopmans from the Nebraska Iowa District are finding creative ways to continue serving their schools and communities. Koopmans says, “We are planning to begin a program with Hy-Vee grocery that when a Red Cross bag is sold, US$1 goes back to our school.” Nebraska Iowa Key Club member Preksha Sarda says, “Whether it’s staying inside, wearing a mask or collecting donations, we can make a difference.” Many Key Clubbers such as Sarda see keeping our communities safe as a service in itself.
Meetings play a vital role in communication between club officers and members, but Key Club members are determined to keep up communication throughout the pandemic. Serena Butera of the Eastern Canada District says her home club will be meeting online this year via Zoom and conducting online service events and initiatives. While much of the service that is performed this fall will be virtual, there are still many communities around the world that can be improved through virtual volunteering events or socially distanced service projects.
Through all the uncertainty, Key Clubbers’ unmatched optimism continues to uplift their schools and communities. This is prevalent through members such as Mansi Sethi of the Eastern Canada District. “Overall, despite the uncertainty going into this ever-changing school year, I am confident that Key Clubbers can tackle these challenges with the same drive and determination that they show in serving their communities,” Mansi said.
Members adamantly stress adaptability. Sivani Manimaran from the Nebraska Iowa District acknowledges, “I understand the need to be flexible, because only one thing is certain at this time: Things are going to change.” Other students, such as Aishna Kumari from the Rocky Mountain District, are making the most of the unusual situation. She points out, “I also have more free time during online school, which I enjoy”. While online school is new to many students, some members say the flexibility of online school allows them to devote more time to service. Laila Kantarevic says, “Despite the difficulties and drastic changes of how the school year will be conducted because of COVID-19, there’s been a lot of hope being spread throughout my school, along with positive words of encouragement for the future.”
While nobody is entirely sure what the pandemic will bring next, one thing is certain: You can count on your Key Club friends to spread positivity within their schools and communities.