Key Club members from all over east Texas met Saturday morning to train officers and plan events for the coming school year. Key Club is the high school branch of the Kiwanis Club. The meeting included an inspirational speech on leadership by Mineola Middle School principal Mike Sorenson and an introduction to members of K-Kids, the elementary school branch of Kiwanis.
The key focus this year is the Eliminate Project, a campaign to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. According to research, tetanus kills 60,000 infants each year, or one every nine minutes. The disease causes repeated convulsions and extreme sensitivity to light and touch. It is estimated that more than 100 million mothers and their future children must be immunized to do away with the illness. The cost is projected to be $110 million. Local fundraising ideas included voting by donation to have school teachers “kiss the bulldog” or dress for prom, and passing baby bottles at lunch in a “minute to win it” style race to fill the bottles with donations.
Mike Sorenson, the principal at Mineola Middle School spoke on leadership before the group broke for lunch. He suggested that the students ask themselves why they consider a person a great leader and what qualities those leaders possess that they want to cultivate individually. Sorenson revealed that the key to recognizing a great leader for him is quiet strength, “an inner confidence about what they believe – and they don’t have to tell you about it, because you can feel it.” The principle of praising loudly and correcting quietly was emphasized, citing superintendent John Fuller’s admonition that “leadership is building and empowering others.” Sorenson discussed his belief that true leaders are servant leaders, saying that the greatest quality of a great leader is service to others. Evaluating success as a leader and in life is simple according to Coach Sorenson: it’s “measured by the lasting impact you leave.”
After lunch, another key project was introduced. The Texas-Oklahoma District Governor Luke Broussard chose an anti-bullying campaign for this year’s Governor’s Project. Kick’n Bully’n to the Curb, or KBC, will focus on recognizing and standing up against bullying, as well as reaching out to victims of bullying to offer friendship and encouragement. Broussard shared that his choice of project was based on his own experiences with being bullied that began in elementary school and led him to considering suicide. A study in Britain suggests that at least half of teen suicides are related to bullying, and ABC News reports that approximately 160,000 students stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth, with about 4,400 deaths each year. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost seven percent have actually attempted to take their own lives.
Plans are in the works for another Jingle Bell Jog, and a multi-city homecoming dance is being discussed. The Elementary K-Kids are planning to expand the tour for the Performance Club from only two basketball games to include volleyball, football, baseball, and softball games. A card campaign is also slated for reaching out to nursing home residents, soldiers, and children in the hospital during the Valentine holiday.