Members of the Winston County High School Key Club will be flying to Anaheim, Calif., to participate in several contests at the convention being held July 1-9 at the Anaheim Marriott.
Recently, the club attended the 2014 Alabama District Key Club Convention in Birmingham from March 7-9, where students won a number of awards and walked away with many first-place finishes. The school also earned the bragging rights of having three students on the state’s district board and added a fourth at this year’s convention.
“The state of Alabama is divided into 20 divisions, and each division has a lieutenant governor,” said Frances Gillentine, sponsor of the school’s Key Club. “We had a lieutenant governor from our school, and the governor for the whole district, the whole Alabama district, was from our school. It was the first time we’ve ever had a governor [from our school].”
Serving as governor for the 2013-2014 year was Isabella Martinez. Gillentine said Lexie Green served as the division’s lieutenant governor, and Emme Martinez was the Key Leader chairperson. The new lieutenant governor for District 3 — the district WCHS is located in — is Madison Williams.
More than 400 students across the state attended the Birmingham convention, which was held this year at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Gillentine said 41 students, chaperoned by seven adults, participated from Winston County High School. Currently, the school’s Key Club has 92 members from ninth through 12th grade.
WCHS Key Club won first place in non-traditional scrapbook, single service project and platinum division - J.B. White Achievement Award; second place in talent (Jacob Patterson, Nate Harris and Anna Shipman) and in skit; third place in oratory (Olivia Martinez), highest Reading Is Fundamental donation and highest Children’s Hospital donation. The club also received a UNICEF patch for donating to the Eliminate Project and a Distinguished Diamond Club award (A club must score 94 percent on Annual Achievement report, and there were only two clubs in Alabama that received this particular award.).
Green received the Robert F. Lucas Outstanding Lt. Governor Award and the $1,000 H. Pettus Randall Memorial Scholarship. Isabella Martinez received the Walter Zeller Award and the $1,000 Alabama District Kiwanis Matching Scholarship.
“The kids love it. They really enjoy it,” Gillentine said. “They say it’s a lot of fun. They meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends.”
During the conventions, students attend workshops, officer meetings and other activities. But, Gillentine added that the teenagers also are allowed to enjoy themselves and have fun at a few dances, an awards banquet and ceremony and a governor’s farewell ball. Participants watched in amusement as a hypnotist performed during this year’s district convention.
Gillentine said the importance of the conventions is “to compete and also to learn new things to better our club.”
The Key Club was established in 1925 in California and, according to its website, it is the oldest and largest service program for high school students in the world, with more than 250,000 members in 5,000 clubs in 30 countries. The roots of the Key Club stem from the Kiwanis Club, a nonprofit, service organization.
“The Key Club is strictly a service organization where we do service projects and help with different things,” Gillentine said. “ ... We have to have at least 50 projects and average about 60 hours per member. Then, we also have to raise so much money to donate to different organizations.”
Winston County’s Key Club is also listed in the “Platinum” division. The divisions are divided into four different levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The bronze level has 35 members or less; silver has 36 to 60 members; gold has 61 to 85 members; and platinum has 86 members or more. Gillentine said WCHS has the 10th largest Key Club in Alabama.
“We win awards every year,” said Gillentine, who has been the sponsor at WCHS for the past seven years. “ ... Every year we take more students to the district convention and the international convention than any school in Alabama. Since I’ve been sponsor, we’ve done that every year.”