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Club struggling to pay for travel to convention

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

With a registration deadline fast approaching, the East Frankfort Kiwanis Club is hoping to raise $1,400 so the Franklin County High School Key Club can attend a district convention in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Getting about 15 students to The Park Vista for the 2013 Kentucky-Tennessee District Convention March 15-17 is the issue, said Eugene Harrell, president of the East Frankfort Kiwanis Club, which sponsors the FCHS Key Club.

Key Club members have raised money to cover the $150 per student registration fee by holding bake sales and selling Christmas ornaments in recent months, Harrell said.

But the days of hopping in a car with a teacher or chaperone are long gone.

Franklin County Public Schools implemented a policy in 2008 requiring clubs seeking overnight or out-of-state travel in a school bus to pay $3 per mile, plus the drivers salary. The drivers lodging must also be paid.

The club is hoping to charter a bus to Gatlinburg, a cheaper alternative at $3,200, Harrell said. He asked nearby Kiwanis clubs to pay $300 each so other schools could join the trip and divide the cost.

So far, $1,800 has been raised, the Kiwanis clubs in Georgetown, Lexington and Cynthiana among those contributing.

The Western Hills High School Key Club, sponsored by the Frankfort Kiwanis Club, is also looking to send students to the convention if transportation is available. Frankfort High School does not have a chapter.

Key Clubs in Knoxville and the tri-cities area of Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City, Tenn., have similar arrangements, Harrell said.

The Knoxville Kiwanis clubs have done this for years, he said. They underwrite a bus; we just call it the Knoxville bus.

Since many district conventions are held in Tennessee, Harrell sees the chartered bus becoming a recurring part of the East Frankfort Kiwanis Clubs sponsorship.

The FCHS Key Club missed last years district convention in Chattanooga, Tenn., but Harrell said he hopes to raise the remaining $1,400 with donations from past Key Club members in Frankfort by the Feb. 23 deadline.

We have a lot of former district and international officers around here who realize the importance of (the district convention), so weve asked some of them if theyll help, he said. We just sent out a solicitation a couple days ago.

The district convention is an important part of the Key Club experience, Harrell said. Students learn how to become better leaders, take on service projects and attend workshops during the three-day event.

For Guthrie True, a Frankfort attorney and former Key Club International trustee, the club and conventions proved invaluable.

True, who graduated from FCHS in 1977, said the organization gives students the chance to learn gain leadership skills and self-confidence.

I just think its a great organization because its service-oriented, he said. Of course, your focus is on other people and the needs of other people.

Its tremendous in that respect, but also I think in a real critical point in life, that is high school age, its teaching young people some very important skills.

True said he recently heard of the clubs problems funding a charter bus and hopes local students can make the trip to Gatlinburg.

He recalled riding with Key Club advisors not only to district conventions, but also international meetings in California, New Orleans, Kansas City and Canada.

Times have changed, but those lengthy car rides were memorable.

Its a little unfortunate that young people cant have that same experience now because we did it safely and we had a blast in the process, True said.