Service to humanity is a universal concept that transcends religions, and many influential figures throughout history have emphasized the importance of giving back. From Woodrow Wilson to Mahatma Gandhi, these leaders recognized that serving others is the highest form of religion.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama is no exception to this ethos. Thanks to a collaboration between Rotary and the Tuscaloosa City School System, Interact service clubs have made a comeback in three local high schools: Northside, Bryant, and Central. This initiative was met with enthusiasm from both the school system and the students.
Interact clubs, designed for ages 12-18, provide young individuals with an opportunity to engage in civic service and make a positive impact in their communities. While such clubs were once present in Tuscaloosa high schools, they faded away in recent years.
Recognizing the need for the return of these clubs, Bill Petty, the President of Tuscaloosa Morning Rotary Club, reached out to Mike Daria, the TCSS Superintendent. Petty enlisted the help of Claire Day, an attorney with a passion for public relations and experience in service clubs, to jump-start the Interact project.
Day, who comes from a Rotary family, understands the importance of engaging younger generations. She has been instrumental in utilizing her skills and expertise in social media to support the club’s growth. Her involvement in various nonprofit organizations, such as the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and the Alabama Blues Project, demonstrates her commitment to community service.
The return of Interact was met with excitement among students, who quickly grasped the purpose and significance of the clubs. For Day, volunteering through Interact in high school provided her with a sense of belonging and empowerment. Studies have shown that engaging in nonprofit groups and giving back to others can boost self-efficacy and instill confidence in young individuals.
As Tuscaloosa aims to become a premier school system, Daria emphasizes the importance of offering a well-rounded education that goes beyond core curriculum. Providing students with opportunities for extracurricular involvement helps foster genuine engagement and overall success. With the addition of Interact clubs, along with other initiatives like debate, math, robotics, E-sports, and girls’ flag football, Tuscaloosa City School System hopes to cater to the diverse interests and needs of its students.
Interact clubs in Tuscaloosa will focus their main efforts on Reading Allies, a literacy program that provides tailored tutoring to below-grade-level readers in first, second, and third grades. This program, which was created through a collaboration between the UA Honors College, Tuscaloosa Rotary, and the city schools, has shown remarkable results in improving literacy levels among students.
However, the expansion of these extracurricular activities also poses financial challenges. Daria acknowledges the need for funding to sustain and expand these opportunities, ensuring that they don’t fade away due to resource constraints.
With the reintroduction of Interact clubs in Tuscaloosa, approximately 200 students across the three city high schools now have the chance to be part of a unified team that can make a meaningful difference in their community.
1. What is the purpose of Interact clubs?
Interact clubs provide young individuals with opportunities for civic service and community engagement.
2. How did Interact clubs make a comeback in Tuscaloosa high schools?
Rotary collaborated with the Tuscaloosa City School System to reintroduce Interact clubs to three local high schools: Northside, Bryant, and Central.
3. What is the main focus of Interact clubs in Tuscaloosa?
Interact clubs in Tuscaloosa primarily focus on supporting Reading Allies, a literacy program that provides tailored tutoring to below-grade-level readers.
4. Why is it important for students to be involved in extracurricular activities?
Involvement in extracurricular activities promotes genuine engagement among students, leading to success both inside and outside the classroom.
5. How are these initiatives funded?
Funding for these initiatives, including Interact clubs, comes from various sources, including Rotary and other community partners, as well as support from the school system.