By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Key Club was founded in the year 1925, and throughout its nearly 100 years, it has become one of the largest service programs for high school students.
High school Key Clubs are student-led, and working with a faculty advisor who stresses good citizenship, they are encouraged to develop leadership qualities through unselfish projects that help serve others.
In addition to their academic responsibilities and participation in extracurricular events like sports, band, etc., there are a number of students who have still found the time to become thoroughly involved in Lincoln High School’s Key Club. For example, just thus far this year, some of the significant projects they have undertaken have included directing and supervising games and face painting at Big Elm Elementary School’s Fall Festival fundraising event, collecting ($1,200) for Trick or Treat for UNICEF, making signs and decorating Stydahar Field for Cougar football games, organizing the ‘Feed A Family’ project which entailed collecting and delivering food baskets to 25 local families, setting up the luminary display at the Shinnston Memorial Cemetery during the holiday season, making Christmas ornaments with the Cougar Crafters, delivering Christmas trees to the Veterans Nursing Home, Christmas caroling at the VA, participating in Trunk or Treat for the City of Shinnston and the Ellis Restaurant, reading once a month to pre-school students in the area … the list of all their worthwhile ‘giving’ seems almost endless! And remember, most of this volunteerism is done after school hours and/or on weekends. They lead VERY busy lives!
Most recently, Lincoln’s Key Club hosted what has become an annual event – their Prom Fashion Show. It has several purposes. First of all, it encouraged the students (freshmen through seniors) to work together; it urged them to utilize their creativity; it was partially a fun event while at the same time giving students formalwear ideas for their spring prom; but perhaps most importantly, it, too, was a fundraiser they chose!
The proceeds of this year’s fashion show will benefit the family of kindergarten student Richard Adams of Nutter Fort. His parents first thought his symptoms were the result of a sports injury. Sadly, however, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At just five years old, this child has been in and out of five hospitals, and the family, which includes four children, is constantly traveling back and forth to Cincinnati for treatment visits.
Lincoln Key Club advisor Mary Matheny said, “As their advisor, I just oversee their projects. It’s these students who do all the work, and they do a lot! They are a great group of kids and they chose to help this family because they realized the seriousness of what the family was going through and wanted to show their support,” she said.
Students paid a $2 fee to attend the fashion show last week, where freshmen competed to be the most creative, designing their own attire using duct tape and garbage bags. Sophomores then modeled formalwear from Like New Upscale Resale Shop in Shinnston as well as some of the gowns available through the school’s Prom Princess Project. Juniors and seniors appeared in formal attire lent to them through the generosity of local businesses such as House of Fashions, Oliverio’s Bridal, Lavish, The Queen’s Choice, and My Tailor Shop. Faculty members also participated, wearing prom attire from their era! Nearly 60 Key Club students participated in this fund-raising event.
Drawings were also held and students had the opportunity to win prom related items such as gift certificates for corsages, boutonnieres, dinner out, etc. Over 50 gifts were given.
Eighth grade students and their families from Lincoln Middle School were also invited to attend the Prom Fashion Show. The idea was to introduce them to Key Club and what it is like to participate in the organization’s functions.
In addition, Key Club members prepared “Donor Recognition Cards”, and for $1, students could purchase a card and write a message to Richard Adams. They also had the cards available for purchase at the Lincoln vs. Bridgeport girls’ basketball game. Key Club members intend to take these cards, along with photos taken during the Prom Fashion Show, and prepare a keepsake scrapbook for Richard.
Two area businesses also donated money, which will be used to help with the scrapbook project; the rest has been added to the donation to the Adams family. Students were pleased to have netted a little over $1,000 to help this family.
Yes, Key Club membership involves the giving of lots of time and energy. Yet students admit that as they work together to develop their ideas and organize their projects, enduring relationships develop. Members were also quick to agree that much credit needed to shared with their advisor Mrs. Matheny, whom they say never gets enough credit for the amount of time she spends helping them with their causes and making it enjoyable.
Here are the comments that some of the Lincoln Key Club members offered about their Key Club experiences.
Hanna Stoper stated, “I think our ‘Feed A Family’ project was my favorite. It helped us all to realize just how very blest we are. We were happy to provide these families the opportunity to enjoy a full family meal during the holidays.”
Lauren Brooks agreed, saying, “All of our projects – especially ‘Feed A Family’ – was a project for us to step in and serve local people around us. It was a good example of serving our community.”
Cory Fazalare said, “Our Key Club projects have kind of changed the definition of ‘community service’ for me. It became ‘fun’, not something we were forced to do.”
Olivia Gianettino added, “Our club has about 90 members and there are probably 80 of us who are very active. I think it’s great that this many teenagers take their time to do these extras within our school and for our community.”
With that same thought in mind, Mackenzie Hawkins offered, “Kids our age sometimes get ‘a bad rap’, but when this many young people come together to serve others, I think it helps promote a more positive image for our generation.”
Alec Gemondo remarked, “Yes, our projects help our community, but when you do these things with friends, we find out that service is also fun.”
McKinley Clark said, “My involvement with Key Club is a part of high school that I will never forget because we have made a difference and made people smile.”
Darian Darway spoke of the importance Key Club has played in her life, saying, “I think Key Club has instilled values in all of us and we’ll carry these values with us. We have helped people in our community and made an impact, and it is a bonus that we’ve had a good time doing it.”
Shelby Swiger stated, “The things we’ve become involved with through Key Club has given us the opportunity to interact with our peers as well as our community, and it has helped make us more well-rounded people.”
Kendal DeMarco concluded, “Most of the things we do for Key Club brings our school together working on these projects, and the success we’ve had shows how teamwork can help make wonderful things happen in a community.”
These young people have become very confident leaders who find a cause, set a goal, and work as a “team” to bring about positive results. These lessons were not outlined in a textbook or drawn on a chalkboard; they were learned by participating … cooperating … and giving of themselves. Taking these concepts with them as they travel through life will one day offer society a dedicated group of good citizens.
PHOTO 1 –
Lincoln Key Club members on the Prom Fashion Show committee included (l-rt): front row – McKinley Clark, Hanna Stoper, Shelby Swiger, and Lauren Brooks; back row – Darian Darway, Cory Fazalare, Olivia Gianettino, Mackenzie Hawkins, Kendal DeMarco, and Alec Gemondo.
PHOTO 2 –
Pictured here are some beautiful examples of prom wear presented thanks to the cooperation received from area formalwear stores.
PHOTO 3 –
Here are some very creative ideas from freshmen who appeared on stage wearing examples of their ingenuity with plastic bags and duct tape. Thankfully, today’s colored duct tape lent lots of help!
PHOTO 4 –
Pictured above are some of the faculty/staff members at Lincoln High School who dressed up for the fashion show, modeling attire from their era.