Interact Day 2017


Photo courtesy of Bilal Ibrahim

The attendees of Interact Day gather for a picture together.

Zoya Ahmed, Staff Writer

On November 11, Rochester High’s Rotary Interact Club hosted the fourth annual Interact Day at RHS, in which over 150 people participated. This year’s theme was Veterans Day: Service Above Self.

“[The purpose of Interact Day is to] connect with Interact Clubs from all around Michigan,”sophomore Rishma Balakrishnan, an RHS Interact Club member said. “[They] talk about the projects that they’ve done and how they can do better for their community.”

As the clubs got together to talk about their projects and accomplishments, they also got the chance to work together to build their clubs.

“Interact Day is [held] to recognize our Interact clubs and their good performances and give them an opportunity to collaborate and share ideas to expand their networks,” said Wayne Hodges, who has been a Rochester Rotarian since 2000. “They have the opportunity to both be proud of what they’ve done, share the information with others, collect other good ideas from others’ past experiences, and expand their network.”

The presentations at Interact Day gave students and adults more ideas and helped them come up with more ways to help out in the community.

“I learned more about ways to organize projects,” said Balakrishnan. “And also how to make sure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. I liked how it was really organized and everyone knew what they were talking about.”

This year’s turnout was great, and the Rochester High Interact club received a lot of praise, as well as a Presidential Citation for the 2016-17 school year. This award is given to clubs that go above and beyond their expectations, and is the highest honor a club can receive.

“All of the feedback was nothing but positive, and this was by far the largest turnout we’ve ever had for an Interact Day conference,” said Hodges. “Both adults and students thought the breakout sessions and the opportunities to collaborate were great. I heard words such as fantastic, outstanding, and best ever. I concluded that it came off pretty well.”

Some of the topics that were covered include RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), Shelterbox and the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.

 “We wanted to make sure RYLA was made known to more people and we wanted to raise the awareness on the Youth Exchange,” said Hodges. “We also wanted people to understand more about Rotaract, which is the college age version of Interact. These are all facets of Rotary Youth Programs that we wanted the students to be aware of.”

 The planning for Interact Day started back in last spring. The first thing they did was to figure out when they would hold Interact Day and let others know to save the date.

“It started out with a vision- [we asked ourselves] when do we want to do this, what’s the date, what do we want them to leave with.  You always want to start with what I call the end in mind. You want to focus on the finish line- what do you want everybody to leave with. Then, how do you make sure they got all that while they were there. It involved a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails, trying to find people that were available,” said Hodges. “The most important factor was that we kept going back and asking ourselves who is participating, and what do we want the participants to leave with. Planning for the event involved google [docs, slides, sheets, etc]. Some of the students even had to learn new things.”

At Interact Day there were about 17 Interact Clubs (high school), 4 Rotary Clubs (adult), and 2 Rotaract Clubs (college). The amount of people greatly influenced the turnout of the event.

“It went very well because there were a lot of presentations that were really informative,” said Balakrishnan.

Interact Club adviser Mrs. Messing-Mirabito was happy with all of the hard work the officers put into the event.

 “My favorite part about Interact day was seeing the sense of accomplishment on all of the officers faces,” said Mrs. Messing-Mirabito. “They worked hard and pulled off a great conference and I was so proud of them and happy that they were able to organize such an event when they have never undertaken such a task before.”

From last spring to Interact Day this year, the officers and Mrs. Messing-Mirabito have worked hard to make Interact Day turn out the way it did.

“If you look at the whole activity, nothing happens until somebody has a dream, and then it’s all about finding the leadership amongst the team to make the dream come true. The group of students, in particular, and the adviser, Mrs. Messing-Mirabito, showed tremendous leadership in not being afraid to ask questions, not being afraid to change answers where they didn’t really know how to do it in the beginning. [They also] continued going without giving up,” said Hodges. “Without the dream, there is no vision, and without the leadership nothing happens. The leadership I see from the leaders in this group, gives me no concern about the future of the club because I know what they are going to do absolutely great things going forward in their lives, and Interact Day helped them grow a little bit more.”

 The Interact Club officers believe all their hard work paid off.

“It was amazing to see how everything we’ve been planning since last September finally came together in one successful day,” said senior Keri Yang, the treasurer of the RHS Interact Club. “ It was a lot of work to plan- from creating agendas, getting presenters for breakout sessions, and finding someone to cater the event, but in the end it was all worth it. I feel like everyone learned a lot and everyone had a lot of fun being together and creating ideas to better our communities.”

 RHS Interact Club President Zahra Ahmed agrees that Interact Day was a big hit.

“Interact Day was a great success. I am so proud of our officer team for doing such a wonderful job in planning, organizing, and hosting this year. The day went smoothly, and there was a lot of knowledge and information shared,” Ahmed said. “Our hard work paid off, as everyone who attended the conference really enjoyed it and left inspired.”

 Interact Day would not have been the same without all the hard work and effort the officers put in. They often met more than once a week to prepare for the event.

 “I think that our officers did an amazing job organizing this event,” said Mrs. Messing-Mirabito. “They spent countless hours preparing and the feedback from many was this was one of the best interact days.”

 Interact Club is also great way to give back to the community and get service hours for clubs such as NHS and Key Club, while having fun and enjoying yourself.

 “This is my first year [in Interact] and I joined because I wanted to give back to my community,” Balakrishnan said.

 Interact Day helped many people, both students and adults, learn new things.

“My favorite part was unquestionably watching the youth grow, working together as a team, and not giving up and keeping on going,” stated Hodges. “And I really enjoy that- that’s what learning and life are all about.”


To view more pictures from Interact Day, click on this link: