Four Pennsylvania Key Clubbers share their experiences at the Chicago event.
By Danielle Castonzo
During July 4-8, more than 1,500 Key Club members from around the world gathered at the Key Club International convention in Chicago, Illinois. There, student leaders shared service project and fundraising ideas, listened to speakers, elected next year’s Key Club International Board and collaborated with members and advisors from other districts.
If you didn’t get a chance to go or are considering attending next year (you should!), four Key Club members from the Pennsylvania District share the biggest lessons they learned at convention last month:
- Every school has a unique approach to leadership and service. “Each district, each division, each club has different ideas for how they can all better their homes, schools and communities, and they all have excellent ideas,” says Andy Hilzinger, lieutenant governor of Division 1 in Pennsylvania and member of the Bradford Area High School Key Club. “I’ve absolutely gotten ideas from other clubs and schools about service projects that I want to take back to my club this year.” If your club has been struggling with a project, the convention offers a great opportunity to brainstorm solutions with like-minded student leaders who have faced similar challenges.
- Not only is the international convention a lot of fun, but it also gives Key Club members the chance to grow professionally and personally. “I learned the idea of confidence and how portraying yourself passionately and professionally can truly make an impact,” says Billy Wermuth, lieutenant governor of Division 18 in Pennsylvania and member of the North Penn High School Key Club.
- The international convention is an opportunity to form new friendships, especially during the dance and the meet-and-greet sessions. “The friends you make through Key Club are the friends that will last forever,” says Abigail Bulafka, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania’s Division 17 and a member of the Daniel Boone High School Key Club. “There is truly no way to describe the feeling when you are surrounded by people who have the same passion as you, and I felt that convention will always have a special place in my heart because of this.” Once you’re back home, stay in touch with the students and advisors you met. You never know when you might be able to connect with them again.
- The convention is a reminder that small acts of service can be incredibly impactful. “It does not matter if you are young, old, big or small,” Geri Hoffman, from the Shikellamy High School Key Club in Pennsylvania, says. “You can make a difference no matter how small you, your club or your town is.”
- Being in Key Club means being part of an international network of like-minded people. Take advantage of the opportunity. The convention made Division 1’s Hilzinger reflect on the impact Key Club can have outside his own club. “The organization as a whole has done so much good for the entire world,” he says, “and if we stay in our home clubs, not interacting with our districts or the international organization, we miss out on all the good Key Club can do.”