Unlocked Potential: Unaka Key Club wins International awards for service

Published 5:50 pm Friday, July 20, 2018

Kiwanis International gives high school students a “Key” to make an impact.

And for students in Stoney Creek, it didn’t take lock to unlock the potential of giving back to Carter County and Elizabethton.

The Unaka High School Key Club is one of high school groups sponsored through the Elizabethton Kiwanis Club. During the week of July 1, Unaka students were able to win a pair of awards during the Kiwanis International Convention for Key Club International in Chicago.

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In a organization with students from across the globe, Unaka Key Club was able to take home first place for the single service project within the silver division – club comprised of 36-60 members. Members also received “Diamond Level Distinguished Club” recognition – which is presented to clubs across the globe that have showcased consistent administration, strong membership, continued leadership and development, K-Fam involvement, fundraising and outstanding service.

Unaka High School is part of the Kentucky-TN District of Key Clubs and is joined from the area by Elizabethton High School’s club.

Club Sponsor Kayla Clawson, who earned the KY-TN 2018 Faculty Advisor Award, indicated the group was able to come up with over 2000 community service hours with various projects within the region over the past year.

A handful of members were able to have a summer meeting Thursday at the high school. And while sights are set for the coming year, Clawson had nothing but praise for the 38-member group that was able to make an impact among other groups across the world for 2017-18.

“These students showed tremendous compassion and dedication throughout the year,” Clawson said. “That has not gone unnoticed. I am so proud of these kids and the impact they have made on those around them.”

The service project award was received due to the success of the second annual community trunk or treat event, which featured over 400 residents.

“We put a lot of work into the trunk or treat when we started two years ago,” said Jaida Walters, 17-18 Key Club president. “We didn’t expect it to be as big as it is now. This past year we were able to serve 400 kids. That’s crazy for our little community. I think we were able to set the standard for it to grow even more to serve more people in the area.”

Walters graduated this past year from Unaka and sung the praise of Britney Hodge. Hodge,served as vice president last year and will enter this school year as the new president of the Key Club.

“This year was pretty impressive compared to the year before,” Hodge said. “Jaida has definitely taken us far and beyond. I really have some big shoes to fill for the upcoming year. Just like she said, I hope the trunk or treat just continues to grow and impact way more in the community.

While the accolades are nice, both Lady Rangers stated the thrill comes from giving back in any type of capacity.

“It’s the little things,” Hodge said about the simplicity of giving back to the area.

“Anything you do, little or big, makes a difference,” Walters added. “Especially the little things. You don’t really understand the impact you’re making. Anyone that what’s to help out in anyway, they’ll be able to look back at the people and lives their were able to touch. It’s a great feeling I think they should everyone should experience.

The Unaka Key Club is made up of: Willow Barbe, Celeste Buckles, Tyler Carroll, Katie Carter, Cheyenne Dugger, Madison Ensor, Axi Erickson, Jacob Feaster, Haylee Fuller, Sara Beth Grubb, Madison Higgins, Britney Hodge, Hunter Hodge, Katie Houghton, Lilie Kiser, Morgan Mann, Syndey Markland, Ireland McGowan, Carmen Mellichamp, Toni Moffitt, Cassidy Norris, Makenzie Revis, Corie Schuettler, Taylor Shanks, Angel Simerly, Arianna Sutters, Briana Sutters, Sarah Tipton, Savannah Tipton, Katie Townsend, Jaida Walters, Nick Walters, Katlyn Weaver, Courtney Whitehead, Abby Williams, Peyton Wiseman, Dusty Wright and Gary Wright.