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This summer, one of Fridley High School’s own rose to the most prominent position of an international service group.
Senior Emily Rice was chosen as International President of Key Club International at the program’s annual convention in Chicago on July 7, 2018. The role oversees more than 264,000 members from 5008 clubs in 38 countries around the world.
Key Club is a student-led community service organization focusing on servant leadership and building leadership skills. It is sponsored by Kiwanis International through local districts and international entities.
Rice found out she was one of two finalists for International President after a day of caucusing and attending a morning nominating conference, giving numerous speeches throughout. On the afternoon of July 7th, Rice won the election.
“It was very overwhelming and surreal,” Rice said. “To serve this many people on such a large scope is an opportunity I haven’t had before.”
Rice added that in Key Club, being the president is not a figurehead position. “I’m here to serve everybody else. It’s an inverted pyramid. Our members – the largest part, the base – is actually at the top, and the international board is at the bottom. Being the International President exemplifies that, embodying servant leadership and showing we truly are the bottom of the pyramid and here to serve others.”
The International Board focuses on strategies, making decisions for the organization as a whole, and providing grants and fundraising opportunities. The board also looks for ways to improve the member experience and create a sense of community within the organization.
Rice was an international trustee last year, so she was familiar with how the board operates. A personal goal of hers is to boost the international focus instead of local club level support. “My campaign was based on the tagline ‘let’s focus on who makes this organization as great as it is: our members, our supporters and our communities,” she said.
Her new role involves a fair amount of travel for a high school senior. “I just got back from Indianapolis – I was there for nine days for training and a board meeting. I’ll be returning there in November, and Baltimore for another board meeting. Beyond that, it’s on a request basis, with the international president averaging one trip per month, and one international trip,” Rice said.
Kiwanis sponsor and Key Club advisor Mary Bowen has watched Rice’s ambition over the years, and felt she was destined for great things.
“Sometimes people get so focused they lose track of their own club,” Bowen said when asked about Rice as a role model for Key Club members. “It’s so easy to say you’re overloaded with your own job. You don’t hear that from Emily. She’s always there to say ‘what can I do to help?’”
Club wins 16th Distinguished Club – Diamond Level Award
For the 16th straight year, Fridley’s Key Club has achieved the rank of Distinguished Club - Diamond Level, the only club in the Minnesota-Dakotas District to achieve the designation and an achievement that puts them in the top one percent of clubs. To attain this honor, Key Club partners with the Fridley Kiwanis group to raise awareness and donations for such organizations as UNICEF, Children’s Miracle Network, and the March of Dimes.
Fridley’s Key Club ventured into service projects, such a cleaning the football field after home games, taking May baskets to nursing homes, teacher appreciation tokens, and making pillow case dresses and dolls for 15 orphanages in Africa. The group also held its annual 72-hour teeter totter marathon at Bowen’s home to raise money for Eliminate, a Kiwanis project group that funds neonatal and maternal tetanus vaccines in third world countries. One of its most visible campaigns is its annual Socktober Sleepout, a month-long effort to collect socks for homeless people and includes club members sleeping in cardboard boxes on the football field for a night.
Bowen figures the Fridley Key Club has raised between $20-22,000 over the years through its fundraising efforts.
Greg Stowers, the Director of Key Club International, made a visit to Fridley High School on September 12, 2018, to meet the club that has won the prestigious Diamond Level for a record 16-years in a row. In addition, he joined Rice in presenting a banner to Activities Director Dan Roff, proclaiming the high school as the home club of the International President.
“It’s easy for us as adults to look at students as up and coming leaders,” Stowers told the students. “I see every day that you all are not just future leaders, but that you’re leaders now. You are doing awesome things and I’m happy to play a role in that process.”
Though Stowers has only been at his post for three months, he is well aware of new president Rice’s contributions. “She keeps me on my toes – lots of emails, lots of questions – but it comes from a place of passion,” Stowers said. “I really appreciate her abilities to navigate the realities and scope of what she can do, and also be open to new ideas of what we can do in the future.”
Pictured above is Emily Rice with Mary Bowen, Kiwanis Sponsor of the Fridley Key Club. Pictured below is Dan Roff (Activities Director for Fridley Public Schools), Mary Bowen (Key Club Advisor), Emily Rice (Key Club International President and Fridley High School senior), Katie Sneider (Key Club Advisor), and Greg Stowers (Key Club International Director)