The Bastions

 Photo by Shraddha Ramnath

Volunteer and student service organizations have been a pillar of the high school experience, boasting among the largest member populations and histories of all the clubs. The halls of this school echo with the activities and energy of Key Club, National Honors Society (NHS) and student government. But like NHS head sponsor Sarah Johnson said, organizations no longer attribute their longevity to the importance of having service hours on a resume. Instead, they move in directions that inspire intrinsic motivation to work for the causes that matter the most.

Photo by Shraddha Ramnath

(Key)ping up with the times

Kiki Koniaris, Key Club vice president and junior, said the club was founded in 1925 in California. Because of their decades-long involvement at CHS, they have been stressing changes from an authoritative leader-member relationship to a collaborative relationship in order to invigorate the club’s energy.

Cynthia Cahya, Key Club president and senior, said, “I think in previous years— I’ve been an officer since my sophomore year— even back then it was way different how we ran. The executives would come up with a lot of the opportunities and we would guide.”

Key Club took steps this year toward being more proactive in hopes of giving students more opportunities to exercise their volunteering spirit through hours activities during meetings, Cahya said.

“Before we did have a large amount of members, but I (saw) a lot of them weren’t participating, their hours were pretty low, and I feel like that’s because they didn’t know what to do,” Cahya said. “But I feel like now there’s a lot more opportunities, we’ve teamed up with a lot of clubs. It kind of sparks them to keep going and do stuff; I think that’s the biggest change I’ve noticed.”

Leading the Charge

In a similar way, student government, despite having much fewer members than volunteering organizations, also has had troubles in the past with distributing weight by giving preference to seniors. Student body president Mike Pitz said one of his main goals was to try to recognize non-senior senators and designate chairmen positions more equally.

Pitz said, “(You’re) not going to have that longevity unless you have a serious boost of energy the next year, and I took that to heart. With that ‘spreading the love’ mentality, we’re able to cut down on the bureaucracy and have more of a truly unified Senate.”

Photo by Shiva Vallabhaneni

“Student service leaders that came before and are here right now have taken those events and those causes and those concepts to heart so that we, as ordinary high school students from the Carmel bubble being of high socioeconomic class and having this distorted image of wealth; we put that all aside and we say we’re here for the cause and we’re here to make a difference, emphasize with our community, with our state and with our world to make it a better place,” Pitz said.

Photo by Shraddha Ramnath

Honorable Volunteering

The current class of volunteer and service executive officers said they have been sharpening the focus and shifting the direction of their operations, acting on ideas with a more equal distribution of responsibility and more member participation overall.

According to Michele Satchwell, former NHS head sponsor, NHS was founded in 1921 and CHS has had an active chapter since 1953.

Connor Inglis, NHS vice president and senior, said, “They put a lot of pressure on a couple of (officers), and so we wanted to get away from that and we wanted to get a lot of people opportunities to get more done, been trying to include more members this year.”

He said NHS is achieving this through the expansion of committees when organizing school-wide events like carnation sales.

“This year we had someone hold the lunch position, but I added, for instance, SRT this year,” Inglis said. “There’s never been a sale during SRT, and it really helped our sales doing it during SRT, because it was a promotion tool and we made good sales as well. And so we kind of added new committees; it gave more group hour opportunities, it gave more money, more promotion.”

Lasting Foundations

When looking into the future, the leaders said they all want their organizations to continue in a direction of unity and empathy.

Inglis said, “I don’t see (NHS) ever going away because I think Carmel High School, one of the great things, is (that’s) always a something that they do so well— I guess in the city of Carmel in general— is that students are raised to try and help the community any way they can. And so, I continue to see that mindset of ‘What I can do to help at Carmel?’ and that’s kind of what NHS embodies. So as long as we have those students at Carmel, I think NHS will always be a strong organization.”

Cahya said, “I feel like we have good bones, (but) I want (Key Club) to become bigger than just getting high school service hours. I want it to be more like an organization that is committed to doing stuff for the community rather than for college applications.”

Pitz said, “If you have those motives of making a difference, both for the people beside you and for the causes and for your school and for your community, that’s going to let you have a lot of longevity here at Carmel.”

Share this Post

About the Author

Lin-Lin Mo