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A revived BHS tradition: Key Club’s Top Dog Talent Show

Q&A with Key Club’s president, Emilie Jack.

By: Lylah Jakubiak

Top Dog, originally known as Mr. BHS, is a student-led event which has been hosted by Key Club for almost 40 years. After COVID’s inevitable closing of the show, it returned last year, rebranded from Mr. BHS to Top Dog. The tradition was supposed to re-enter the BFAC’s stage this year, but was canceled due to issues with participants and weather. Emilie Jack, the president of Key Club, reflects on the existence and future of Key Club’s talent show, giving us an inside perspective on the events and processes leading up to this year’s closing and the future shows. 

Q: For anyone who doesn’t know, can you give me a brief overview and explanation of what Key Club does?

A: “Key Club is a non-profit service organization that’s run by students. Our organization has four levels: club, district, state, and international. All levels focus on student initiatives. The goal of the club is to encourage high school students to volunteer in their community through various activities. Batavia Key Club, for example, participates in elementary school mentoring, Salvation Army bell ringing, food drives, seasonal blood drives, and so much more.”

Q: Is this your first year being in an elected position in Key Club, or do you have a history with Key Club leadership?

A: “I joined Key Club as a freshman, but it wasn’t until junior year that I held a position on the board. As a junior, I was club secretary and represented BHS, Saint Charles East High School, Saint Charles North High School, and Geneva High School at the state level as Division 10 Lieutenant Governor.”

Q: The Top Dog talent show was called off due to the bad weather and cancellations in participants. Will the show return later this school year, next, or is it an indefinite end?

A: “Unfortunately, based on the BFAC’s availability, we do not believe Top Dog will happen this year, but we plan for next year!”

Q: Can students expect this talent show to continue as an annual tradition for BHS students?

A: “Yes! Top Dog will be an annual tradition held once a year. As of right now, I am not aware of future plans as the incoming board is to plan for Top Dog 2025”

Q:  What was the inspiration behind this year’s talent show?

A: “For over 10 years we have done Mr. BHS, but as of last year, we changed it to be welcoming to all students. In correspondence with our district’s new initiative and current times, we changed Mr. BHS into Top Dog to be more gender-inclusive.”

Q: What is the ultimate goal of Key Club hosting this talent show, and who are you looking to impact or help?

A: “The talent show is a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Neuroscience Research Foundation. They provide research grants to doctors who work with a variety of patients that have neurological conditions. Some of these conditions include Altheimzer, Spina Bifida, and Dementia.”

Q: Why did Key Club pick the Kiwanis Neuroscience Research Foundation as their charity?  

A: “It’s been a tradition for us! Kiwanis is the parent organization of Key Club, so therefore we partnered with KNRF.”

Q: What exactly is a Top Dog?

A: “A Top Dog is a student who has shown an incredible amount of talent. Our judges (teachers) vote on factors such as preparation, enthusiasm, talent skills, and audience interaction.” 

Q: How are Top Dogs chosen from the hundreds of students at BHS?

A: “A survey was sent out to the entire school that allowed students to nominate their friends to be a talent show candidate or themselves. Then, a couple weeks later, we sent out a final survey to those nominees to see if they confirmed or denied their nomination.”

Q: How many students planned on participating this year?

A: “If the participants confirm their nomination, three students are chosen from each grade to participate and partnered up with a Key Club member in the same grade. So, given this information, we were expecting 24 students.”

Q: Might Key Club partner with other clubs in the future?

A: “We proudly say this is a Key Club only tradition. Hundreds of hours have gone into planning this show. Due to this, we will continue to lead Top Dog.”

Q: Are there any people you would like to highlight who have contributed to the show’s creation?

A: “My advisor, Marnie Heim. Mrs. Heim has been a Key Club sponsor for a long time! In fact, she was the one who dreamed up Mr. BHS and now Top Dog. As a result, she has all the logistics down to a T. We couldn’t have made it successful without her connections, expertise, and unique ideas.”

Q: What is Key Club working on now? What’s next?

A: “Key Club is continuing to volunteer in the community! We are hosting a blood drive Jan. 30, sending a handful of our students to the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District Convention this February, and hosting various other after-school volunteer activities.”

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