Students now have an additional choice in their broad selection of leadership and community service clubs at CCHS – one with roots across six continents.
Interact club, a subproject of global network Rotary Club, “bring[s] together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills,” according to its website. Individual Interact clubs, which are sponsored by their local Rotary clubs, are located across 159 countries, including France, Canada and Nepal.
Psychology and sociology teacher Steven Franzone decided to take on the club as the advisor after what he called “a positive experience” with Rotary Club years ago.
“Principal [Wendy Doll] put out a notice about Interact being involved with Rotary Club, and my dad was involved with Rotary when I was younger,” he said. “We had a foreign exchange student that came and lived with us through the Rotary Club, who sponsored it. I thought I would reach out and get involved.”
After establishing the CCHS chapter of Interact, Franzone was on the lookout for officers. Junior Paula Seraphim took an immediate interest in leadership for the newly formed organization after attending an interest meeting with a Rotary representative.
“[The representative] explained what the whole club was about, and talked about some amazing projects they worked on to bring relief all over the world,” she said. “Immediately, my friend and I knew we wanted to be involved.”
Now president, Seraphim and advisor Franzone have big plans for the chapter. While Interact clubs are required to complete at least two projects a year, CCHS’ Interact club is hoping to exceed that number. Among some of the projects proposed for this year are a zen garden on campus and volunteering at an animal shelter.
“Right now, we want to work on hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and hopefully some of the surrounding islands,” Franzone said. “We have a few more things in the works, and hopefully it just grows bigger and bigger from that.”
Attorney Tami Wolfe, director of the Davie-Cooper City Rotary, serves as a mentor for CCHS’ Interact club. She explained that while Interact will eventually grow to be independent, members of the local Rotary Club will always be available to help students with ambitious projects.
“We can offer advice or help to resolve any issues that arise,” she wrote. “We are in contact with other Rotarian groups in other countries so that when the Interact Club is working on an international project, we can facilitate the connection with Rotary in that part of the world to help the Interact Club complete their project […] Rotarians have valuable experience and information you can draw upon when needed.”
Despite the relative freedom Interact has, as a subunit of an international organization, they must answer to Rotary.
“Rotary discusses their plans for us as a region, and we also get to hear other chapter’s ideas and projects,” vice president of membership Lauren Nassi said.
Interact held its first official meeting on October 4, where its officer board introduced themselves and discussed dues, upcoming projects and volunteer opportunities.
Interact organizations have frequently been compared to Key Club, which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club as opposed to Rotary Club. But while Key Club specializes in local service, Interact is meant to branch out internationally, far past the boundaries of Cooper City.
“Our projects go beyond the community and reach out on a global scale,” Seraphim said. “Rotary even has a partnership with an orphanage in Africa. Our club isn’t just about getting involved, but also about finding creativity and enthusiasm in the work we conduct.”
With Interact club just getting on its feet, outreach projects across the globe likely won’t make an appearance for a while. But the leadership of CCHS’ Interact club has plans to eventually do just that.
This chapter of Interact will join the ranks of over 20,000 other Interact clubs worldwide across dozens of nations, something its members take pride in.
“I do have high hopes for this club,” Nassi said. “The purpose of Interact is others in need locally and internationally.”
Photo by Casey Chapter