Interact Club works to develop a culture of service at WCHS


Photo by Gabi Shewchuk

WCHS Interact Club members Rosa Saavedra, Angelica Hu, and Lindsey Zamudio (left to right) get ready to enter the main hall at the 2023 RYLA conference. Over President’s Day weekend, the juniors are super excited to participate in fun activities and learn about how to develop leadership skills and build connections.

By Gabi Shewchuk, Staff Writer

“Giving back” means different things to different people. To some, it could mean donating five dollars to a charity stand as they walk by, while to others it means volunteering in soup kitchens. For the WCHS’s Interact Club officers, it means creating a community in their school whose goal is to serve the less fortunate and help the underprivileged however they can. 

The Rotary Club is one of the largest service organizations in the world for adults. Seeking to expand its impact, Rotary created Interact, a high school level program operating all around the country, so that high schoolers can participate in community service activities and projects. 

“We do community service projects such as coat drives and donations, and we get sponsorships from older Rotary members,” junior and Vice President Kayla Mollaan said. “The Rotary Club has a bunch of experienced members who are really helpful in sponsoring us and giving us ideas.” 

Though the Rotary Club is there to guide them, the Interact Club officers facilitate members’ engagement in creative projects to support the community. Last year, club president and junior Angelica Hu led an initiative designed to unite members in a fun activity through community service.

“During the COVID-19 year, we met when all the cases were starting to go down, and we did a hospital canvas painting,” Hu said. “We worked together to create a paint-by-numbers, making a really pretty peacock, and then we donated it to a local hospital. It was nice because we got to see people after COVID.”

This year, the Interact Club has engaged in another exciting opportunity for its members: the Rotary Youth Leadership Conference (RYLA). WCHS participated for the first time three years ago, but with the pandemic, the Interact Club was unable to participate in 2021 or 2022. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, members hope to make the most of attending the event.

“RYLA is a three-day intensive camp where students learn about leadership, how to succeed in the future and how to encourage their peers,” Hu said. “Not everyone can go to RYLA, so the students who attend take the skills they’ve learned and apply them to the community.” 

Interested members of the WCHS Interact Club were offered one of five or six spots to represent WCHS at RYLA. The conference hosts approximately 100 to 150 attendees from Interact Clubs in schools all over Maryland. 

“[By] participating in RYLA, you can learn a lot,” Mollaan said. “It’s a really good way to make connections. You can get recommendation letters from people you meet, and it’s a great environment.” 

The RYLAs conference is a great opportunity for forward-thinking students at WCHS to bolster their resumes while learning valuable skills for the future.

“A student who is interested in being active in their community, lifting up others, creating change in the world and giving back to their community is the kind of student that will have the best experience at RYLA,” Hu said. 

The RYLA opportunity connects back to the core values of the Rotary Club and the WCHS Interact Club in fostering leaders who strive to make the world a better place.

“Our mission statement is ‘service above self,’” Hu said. “Being part of the Interact Club has taught me the importance of being a good samaritan. You have to use your privilege and the things you’re fortunate enough to have to help give back to people who are not as fortunate. Life isn’t always so pretty, so the club has exposed me to the nice part of life and helped me find the good in humanity.”