By Managing Editor Teri L. Hansen
Students at USD 418 are taking action through a new club. The McPherson Community Interact Club was created through the hard work of two teachers Rebecca Pflughoeft and Erica Shook who co-sponsor it. The club’s first meeting was in August.
“Interact focuses on developing student leadership skills and participating in service–both at the school and/or community level and on a global/international level,” Shook said. “Interact groups are tasked with creating and participating in a minimum of two service projects per year: one locally and one that promotes global understanding.”
The club is part of the global network Rotary. Rotary has been around since 1905 when founder Paul Harris formed the club in Chicago as a way for professionals from different backgrounds to network and exchange ideas. Today, 1.2 million people make up this group dedicated to solving problems, promoting peace and supporting education. Interact is one of the many ways they promote their mission. At USD 418, the club allows students the ability to get involved.
“(They) connect with leaders in your community and around the world to, take action to make a difference in your school and community,” Shook said. “(They) discover new cultures and promote international understanding, become a leader in your school and community and have fun and make new friends from around the world.”
The club is required to execute at least two projects each year. One must focus on the school and/or community and the other will promote international understanding.
“There are also opportunities for Interact students to participate in service projects internationally, which are supported, in part, by Rotary,” Shook said.
The students in McPherson have already done a lot this year. They joined the McPherson College Rotaract group in packaging meals for Numana that went to those in need in Haiti. They assist the McPherson Rotary Club in U.S. map playground painting. So far Lincoln and Washington Elementary have them and the group will paint them at Roosevelt Elementary and Elyria Christian School in the spring at no cost to the schools.
The project they are currently involved in, is the Winter Blanket Drive. The drive will benefit refugees who have relocated to Kansas. The International Rescue Committee has a display at the McPherson Public Library, 214 W. Marlin St., that shows refugees that have received assistance.
“These families come here with virtually nothing, and most come from climates much warmer than ours,” Shook said. “The International Rescue Committee relies on the generosity of others to help families get resettled once they arrive.”
In addition, the club attended the Sooner Institute held by the Rotaract Club of Norman at the University of Oklahoma.
“This was an opportunity for friend-making and networking with other Interact and Rotaract groups, team-building, and idea-generating,” Shook said. “We brought back some awesome ideas to use to build our new McPherson Community Interact Club to make the biggest impact we can on our local and global communities.”
The Rotary is dedicated to six global causes, which Shook and Plughoeft have worked hard to instill within their own club:
- Promoting peace
- Fighting disease
- Providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Saving mothers and children
- Supporting education
- Growing local economies
McPherson has now joined the ranks of the 20,372 clubs around the world in these endeavors. Students ages 12 to 18 are able to connect with others in 159 countries as they develop leadership skills and contribute to their communities.
“Further, in addition to the opportunities Interact creates for our students while in high school, they can continue their participation via Rotaract clubs at the college level and eventually Rotary as adults,” Shook said.