2018-03-08 / Front Page

Meet the Flushing High students of Rotary Interact

By Sam Tunningley
810-452-2661 • stunningley@mihomepaper.com

Rotary Interact students craft blankets at Flushing High School on Wednesday, March 28 for patients at Hurley Hospital and donations to My Brother’s Keeper. 
Photo provided Rotary Interact students craft blankets at Flushing High School on Wednesday, March 28 for patients at Hurley Hospital and donations to My Brother’s Keeper. Photo provided FLUSHING — The 15 impassioned students of Flushing High School’s Rotary Interact are working in ways big and small to put community needs above their own.

Under the supervision of four officers, the students run the meetings and perform the work as a collective, often switching roles and rotating help.

Halle Bartlett, senior and elected president of Rotary Interact, said fellow members bounce ideas around for discussion, or can submit their own with anonymous tips. She has been in the group since her freshman year.

“I really enjoy the group because it’s developed into a thing where, if I want to go to a service event, I have a place to come to for people and ideas,” said Bartlett.

Marty Barta, sponsor of Rotary Interact, brought in boxes of fabric last week for students to craft blankets as donations to Hurley Hospital and My Brother’s Keeper. The activity is just one of several completed this school year by Interact. During the holidays, for example, students held a candy cane sale to raise money for Project Karma – a new scholarship placing an emphasis on positive values and character over academic standing.

“[Rotary Interact] has really opened my eyes to volunteering and how much it’s needed,” said Secretary Allie Degner. “Everyone is always looking for volunteers, and there’s so much you can do.”

Degner joined Interact after attending a Canadian leadership conference with Barta. She said her favorite part of being a member are the weekly visits to Flint’s South End Soup Kitchen, affording her an opportunity to travel outside of Flushing and meet interesting people. Degner said there is often a group of five students visiting the kitchen per week.

Hannah Cox, vice president, said her two sisters were both part of Rotary Interact, and she started with the club as a freshman. The dynamic has shifted to a team effort over the past few years, said Cox, in which none of the members have defined roles despite their official titles.

Joshua and Molly Mitchell, siblings who both joined two years ago, echoed the sentiment expressed by Hannah.

[The most important part of Rotary Interact] is to put yourself out there and put your needs behind others. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ – the whole community should come together to help,” said Joshua.

Cox and Molly said the highlight of their time in the club has been traveling to the elementary school for Very Special Art Day (VSAD) – an event helping special needs students with crafting, art and music – and providing swimming lessons at the Pierson Rd. YMCA.

The students sometimes attend meetings and work in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Flushing, who enlisted members of Interact to help with their annual Huge Indoor Craft Sale and s’more roast at the Candlewalk Festival. Most of the students plan on joining Rotary Interact after school – the college offshoot of the organization – and eventually pursuing a future with their local Rotary.

“[Rotary members are] always so positive, and it’s a good group of people to be role models for us,” said Bartlett.

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