Lynbrook Key Club in an “Empire State of Mind” for Annual Conference

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Members of the Lynbrook High School Key Club recently attended the virtual New York District Leadership Training Conference. Its motto, “Empire State of Mind,” resonated with all attendees as they reflected on the extraordinary 14 months of sacrifice and service to their schools, communities and Key Clubs. The two-day event consisted of several noteworthy speakers, informative workshops focusing on leadership and communication skills and the distribution of a plethora of awards to deserving Key Club districts statewide.

Lynbrook Key Club received an honorable mention award for raising the most amount of money in a single school year. This achievement was made possible largely due to their highly successful Double Good Popcorn fundraisers, which generated a whopping $18,483 for the club in just a few days. These fundraisers also earned the club the award for the most money raised for a single project. Half of the profit generated from popcorn sales went to Kiwanis Children’s Fund, Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, Project 9 Line, the Dr. Barbarino Scholarship Foundation, and the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation.

The awards were preceded by an inspiring speech from keynote speaker Seth Maxwell, one of the founders of the Thirst Project. Maxwell has spoken at countless venues about his organization to provide clean, sustainable water for all human life and to end the global water crisis for good. Since beginning his work a decade ago, the number of people without access to clean water has nearly been sliced in half, yet there is still work to be done. Maxwell implored Key Club members to take advantage of the freedom they have been given and use it wisely to maintain the greater good of others. He further went on to illustrate how acts of service performed with love at the forefront are the most effective way to create long-lasting bonds of empathy and generate much-needed global change.

Key Club members and executive officers alike enjoyed a fun Friday night of speeches, awards and virtual bonding over Zoom. Through Playfair Online, an interactive virtual experience connecting Key Clubbers of all different ages and locations, club members were led by actress Kaliswa Brewster through activities like virtual Rock/Paper/Scissors, sharing fun facts about one’s name and inquiring about favorite foods, movies, and/or pastimes.

“It was such a fun experience,” said sophomore and rising Key Club editor Alyssa Inserra. “Getting to end my Friday night meeting and chatting with people I had never met before was a great way to socialize and at the same time, show me how passionate Key Clubbers can be.”

The fun did not stop there as the second session of LTC kicked off the following morning. After the meeting was called to order by District Governor Mariam Makar, the Lynbrook High School Key Club received another six awards. This included the Public Relations Award, Achieved Increased Membership Award, and the Completed Paperwork Award. These recognized the club’s continued dedication to service, whether in-person or virtual, throughout the community. The club saw an immense increase in membership at the beginning of the school year, which only added to the amount of success through their fundraising endeavors. Additionally, Lynbrook Key Club has also been on top of their game with timely submission of their paperwork and their dues, which each member of the club is required to pay at the beginning of a new service year. This efficient organization and management also earned them the Early Bird Dues Recognition, commemorating all club members.

“It was so exciting to win awards at LTC,” said junior and rising Key Club Co-President Emma Ward. “I love helping people and it was so amazing to see how much of a positive impact our Key Club can have.”

Three sessions of virtual workshops were held throughout the course of the day, all led by Key Club leaders and influential members of external organizations and corporations who offered their expertise on leadership, communications, goal setting, and more. Featured among these was Thirst Project Ambassador Dan Nguyen, Founder and Executive Coach of Gannon Global Dan Gannon, Vice-President of Marketing at LICSPA Joseph Vernace, and Associate Deans of Student Affairs at Long Island University Ashley John and Matthew Blanar. Each presenter shared their own stories of service, goal setting, and leadership experiences.

Sergio Argueta, founder and board President of S.T.R.O.N.G (Struggling To Reunite Our New Generation) Youth, served as the returning keynote speaker for the Saturday session. He shared words of wisdom, along with his heart wrenching story of growing up in a dysfunctional family and associating with the wrong group of friends in high school which led him down a wrong path. However, he did not become discouraged by failure and certainly did not want any Key Clubber to do so either. His emotion was clearly tangible even behind a video screen, as he expressed how confident and hopeful he is regarding the newest generation of Key Clubbers as they prepare to take on the world with incredible insight for its people and meeting the needs of those who need it most. Currently the Dean of Students at Uniondale High School, Argueta’s message for the future was wonderfully received by all in Albany as they sprang to their feet at the end of his speech.

As LTC came to a close, Lynbrook concluded their phenomenal stretch with their two final awards: The Distinguished Club: Diamond Level and first place in the Single Service Award: Platinum Division. These prestigious honors neatly summarized all the hard work Lynbrook’s Key Clubbers have done to meet and surpass their service goals this school year. Additionally, senior and Co-Vice President Olivia Dublin received the award for Most Outstanding Vice President, while Key Club member Dea Pulatani was recognized as a Most Outstanding Member of the freshman class.

“I was so honored to have received the award for Outstanding Vice President, and have loved all of my time here in Key Club the past four years,” said Dublin. “I will miss it so much.”

This year, although extraordinary in many respects, did not stop New York District Key Club from hosting LTC, and whether it be face-to-face or behind the screen, the connections and moments shared were ones to last a lifetime. Current members will be sure to take their greyhound up the Hudson River Line for next year’s conference at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, come 2022.