Journalism Next: Braden River High School Key Club becomes one of the best in the state

Special to the HeraldJune 25, 2012 

"I pledge, on my honor, to uphold the Objects of Key Club International; to build my home, school and community; to serve my nation and God; and combat all forces which tend to undermine these institutions."

This pledge can be heard every Tuesday after school by dozens of kids at Braden River High School, as well as by thousands of other high school students around the nation. The pledge is also recited in a multitude of other languages, as Key Club is represented in 30 nations across the globe.

Key Club is the oldest and largest service program for high school students in the world.

Braden River's Key Club was only established six years ago, but it quickly became the fourth largest Key Club in the state 2010 in with 290 registered members in the club.

"That speaks about the great officers that we get, and in turn that says a great many things about the teamwork that goes into the heart and soul of Key Club," The 2012-2012 secretary of the club, Alexia Fernandez says.

However, that many members were too much for the young club to keep track of. As a result, this year Key Club has been able to be more selective of who they accept into the club, capping the number of members around 100. The BRHS Pirates have thus set a high standard for their club and have a commendable reputation around the community.

This year many changes to the club were made in order to meet new goals and be highly successful. During the 2010-2011 school year the club did not receive any awards or recognitions at the Florida District Convention (DCON) except for a few distinguished officers and members recognized for earning at least 75 hours in a year. This disappointment gave the board of directors and the advisor the drive

and motivation to make the Key Club one of the best in the state.

The Club achieved the goals they set. More was accomplished this year than the officers and advisors even dreamed of last May when they were reforming the club. At DCON the River's Key Club took home 12 awards and recognitions as a club compared to zero last year, a drastic improvement.

Among the many awards, the club received the Governor's citation for earning at least 50 hours of service per member (Braden River's average number of hours per member is 65) this school year.

The club got second place in the state for single service award with the club's first annual sandbox volleyball tournament, a community wide fundraiser that raised $1,100 for project Eliminate.

"The event turned out to be the biggest success of my senior year," says project leader of the tournament Marc Medina.

The Pirates' Key Club was recognized as a distinguished club, along with only five others in the state for overall performance in club administration, membership and leadership development, K family involvement, fundraising, and service hours. Braden River also was a Club of the Year finalist.

"When I went to DCON this past year, the extraordinary experience truly opened my eyes forever, and showed me just how amazing key club really is," exclaimed 2012-2013 Secretary Tayler Shreve.

Not only that but the club reached a total of 27 distinguished members this year, members who have earned at least 75 hours in this Key Club year. Last year Braden River only had a handful of distinguished members.

Krystal Martinez, Senior and 2011-2012 Key Club President was recognized as a distinguished club president. She also won the G. Harold Martin Outstanding Club President award and was given a $1,000 scholarship for being chosen out of three other finalists as the best Key Club president in the state.

"The service we do, the lives we change, and the people I have met in my years of being a member have impacted me significantly. I have built my values and beliefs upon the values that this organization has instilled in me," remarks Martinez. She plans on attending the University of Central Florida in the fall and studying dentistry or physical therapy specializing in athletics.

"Either path I choose I do plan to continue serving my community wherever life takes me," Martinez comments. She plans on joining CKI, the college branch of Key Club at whichever university she attends.

Among the changes the volunteer club made to improve this year, the service organization asked a member of Kiwanis, the adult branch of Key Club, to personally help and be the second advisor of the club. Jeff Zientara stepped up to the plate.

"I wanted to help with everything I could so the Board would succeed with their new goals. It was such a nice surprise to see their hard work and efforts pay off like they did at District Convention."

All of the outstanding accomplishments made this year would not have been possible without Key Club's teacher advisor Jennifer McNally.

"She was instrumental in keeping the kids on track, and making sure nothing fell through the cracks," noted McNally's fellow advisor Zientara. She pushed the kids to do their best and was extremely involved in helping the club plan and participate in service events.

"I will never forget the guidance that Ms. McNally has given us to pull us through tight situations," Martinez adds.

Currently a junior, Stephanie Gray has been elected to serve as 2012-2013 Key Club President. She plans to build on the strong foundations Martinez and the rest of the club have established this year.

"I don't want this to be just a club for getting service hours, but a club that makes an impact that will be remembered in the community," Gray expresses.

"I'm so excited to beable to get more people involved in our school and community and make a lasting legacy that will be remembered. I know that with the board of directors and the dedicated members we have next year will be our best year yet."

"I am so proud of the BRHS Key Club. The Officers set goals and the members worked incredibly hard to not only meet those goals, but surpass them!" McNally says.

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