Service above self

By Christian Stevens and Jason Talbott

Batavia High School offers roughly 40 different and unique clubs and activities that students of all ages can get involved in. Clubs vary from things like Robotics all the way to volunteering clubs. Many clubs volunteer such as Interact Club; Interact is a Rotary-sponsored service club. Students serve both the local community and communities abroad. The members meet weekly and participate in varying activities that help out the local community. The smell of pizza, groups of kids ranging from freshman through senior, and the amazing heartwarming sound of laughter fills the room as these weekly meetings take place to discuss plans for the next volunteer opportunity.

Austun Savitski is currently in her first year as the Interact Club sponsor. Savitski feels that “everything is still very new, but I love it, I have the opportunity to connect with the kids that I don’t get to see every day, I don’t live here but it has helped me to open the doors to see what awesome things are coming to us.”

There have been many fun and exciting moments so far this year in Interact. Savitski expressed how making dog toys and then all the students walking downtown in a rainstorm, throwing candy out to kids, seeing all the kids involved together, during one of the most special weeks of the school year which is homecoming week was her favorite moment so far.

“It was a great evening downtown,” Savitski said. “Seeing everyone hanging out the whole time, doing service work with smiles and then walking in the parade in the rain and with everyone still smiling was my favorite because I got to see how much Batavia loves the community.”

Before Savitski became the head sponsor, Haley Nickolaou was the sponsor for five years before having to take a break due to her having an obligation to be home with her baby. Nickolaou teamed up with Allison Reid before it was passed down to her.

Nickolaou mentioned that when she was in the first grade a tornado completely ripped through her house and destroyed it leaving her and her family with absolutely nothing. When loving and caring people around her community pooled together to help with food, clothes, and other things that everyday people need to survive day to day, it made her want to help.

“Seeing that generosity at such a young age just instilled in me that when you can, you need to do for other people. Seeing the opportunity to recruit a bunch of students to do good things was awesome,” Nickolaou said.

Leaving Interact this year was a really hard decision for her to make. She said she misses it and hopes to get back into it.

“This year was just having to get adjusted to things [having a baby] and next year I would like to go back and volunteer at a couple of things, going from helping with so many things, then all of a sudden not doing anything feels different,” she said. “I have the capacity to do for others and I should do that.”

The executive board takes on responsibilities to make Interact what it is. The executive board is made up of students from the club that were voted to be the leaders. Each candidate has a specific title and has specific responsibilities, such as president, vice president, and treasurer.

Senior Kassie Hupach was voted to be the president of the club, at the end of last year.

“One big responsibility as the president is organizing everything and making sure it runs smoothly,” Hupach said. “We need to reach out to the organizers of all the events that we are volunteering for to make sure everything is going good, and make sure we have all the information about the event, so we can be sure to get all the information to all of our fellow Interacters.”

Even though students are in charge of the club, they try and make it so that other members don’t feel as if they are under everyone else.

“We like to be very personal with our interacters, and we like to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and that everyone is comfortable volunteering for everything that they want to do, we accept everyone into our club,” Hupach said.

Throughout the year there have been many volunteer opportunities ranging anywhere from about 75 to 100 a year. With so many events a year, it is hard to choose a favorite. Madelyn Coleman, who is also a senior and is also the Vice President of Interact, said that one of her favorite events is “going to HC Storm every Thursday last year to read with the kids. For this year, though, I would say my favorite has been making the dog toys out of t-shirts and then going to deliver them. It was very sweet to see because they put the toys in right away and the dogs were very happy and excited.”

Interact has opportunities for everyone, if someone likes working with kids there are babysitting events, and the club is working towards implementing more of mentoring. Overall, there is something to do that would fit everyone’s interests.

Many may wonder how can the club come up with any more ideas for volunteering when they already have so many. Well, students involved in the club such as Miranda Moon have some pretty good ideas. Moon, who is currently a sophomore and is in her second year in Interact, developed an interest from her sister, who was a part of the club.

Due to her sister being in the club she wanted to be a part of the club even before high school.

“Something that I really want to happen is a pick me up during finals week,” Moon said. “You can send a candy bar to a friend to help them get through a tough week for finals. There are also so many other things that could happen to make the club even better.”  

Hupach also had some ideas to make the club better and had some more volunteer ideas. She mentioned that she would like to see more of an international aspect to the club, because Interact is all over the world, and she said it would be cool to reach out to those other organizations.

“I love Interact Club, I like the different volunteer activities we have,” Coleman said.

“Service above self,” is what Interact Club goes by, and they try and hold true to it by serving organizations in the community, and helping those in need.

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