Students, rotary ‘Interact’ for community service

Jasper High School senior Luke Summerlot asks for career advice during a small group discussion at the first joint meeting between the Jasper High School Interact Club and the Rotary Club of Jasper at JHS on Thursday. The Interact Club will assist the Rotary Club with service projects. The students will also work on their own projects with mentorship from the Rotary Club. Nic Antaya/The Herald


JASPER — Jasper High School junior Bre Zehr has always felt a desire to help the people around her. That’s why when the Rotary Club of Jasper launched Interact, the high school version of the service club, she knew she had to sign up.

“I knew if I wanted to help people and serve, this was where I needed to be,” Bre said.

Interact falls under the umbrella of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization that was founded in Chicago in 1905.

Interact developed as the high school version of Rotary Club and offers students opportunities to develop leadership skills, serve the community and form mentoring relationships with Rotary members, also known as Rotarians.

Jasper’s Rotary Club decided to launch Interact at JHS three years ago during its three-year vision planning, and the goal came to fruition at the start of this school year. So far, the club has about 60 students signed up and meets monthly during homeroom. The monthly meetings for October and November, however, were replaced with lunchtime meet-and-greets with Rotarians. About 30 students signed up to attend one of the luncheons, and the first one was held Thursday, with about 10 students and 25 Rotarians in attendance.

The meet-and-greets are meant to gauge student interest in what Interact can offer and to start connecting Rotarians with the students. Going forward, the Interact members and Rotarians will work together to form a club that meets students’ needs.

“We’re learning,” said Judi Brown, a Rotary member who attended Thursday’s meeting. “(Interact) is brand new for us.”

The club falls under Rotary International’s next generations focus area that is geared toward high school students.

As members of Interact, students have the choice of three service projects to work on this spring: a community-based project that will set up an Athena Award display at the Dubois County Museum; an international project of some kind focused on providing aid to people in need; and organizing Rotary’s annual speech contest. Although all three projects will be student-led, Rotarians will be involved as well, further developing relationships that could lead to internships, job shadows or other support.

Beyond Interact, the Rotary Club’s next generations focus offers students opportunities to attend a leadership camp through the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, to host or travel as an exchange student and to compete for a scholarship in the annual speech contest.

Senior Luke Summerlot had already participated in both the leadership camp and the speech contest when Interact came to JHS. His previous experience with the Rotary Club’s activities led him to sign up for Interact.

“I just want to see more high school students like me get involved in the community,” he said.

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