Comparing service clubs

Leslie Parker, Staff Writer


      It was revived, as a club last year, and already has 40 members. Key Club differs from Student Congress and National Honor Society in that it is a much smaller and tighter group of students, and it provides greater opportunities for leadership.

       “If you have a good idea you can present to the committee and then you can be in charge of your own committee and therefore have your own project,” Murphy said. “As a member you can actually lead a project. If you can present your idea well, then you can really see it through and watch it happen on your own.”

      Getting involved with projects, whether it be an individual creative project or a pre-planned project, is a vital part of the club.

     “It’s so easy to sit in Key Club and not get involved and not do anything,” Murphy said. “The true members are coming up with projects and going to projects.”

     Murphy said there are a variety of benefits from participation in the projects and truly engaging in what the club has to offer.

     “You can really improve your leadership,” Murphy said. “You can go through with your ideas and watch who benefits from it in your community and see the real changes.”

     Senior Niko Ralston said that being in Key Club has molded him more than other groups.

     “You feel really good about giving back and helping out the community,” Ralston said. “You can make a lot of new friends. There’s not a lot of people in it so it’s really easy to know everybody and that makes it seem friendlier.”

     Key Club provides an opportunity for any and all students to do good and give back to the community. It  is an open organization that does not have requirements to hold you back.

      “Some people who might not have the grades to get into NHS can join Key Club and still give back through that,” Ralston said. “There’s not as large of a focus on citizenship and academics.”

       However, though anyone can join, members still must earn the appropriate number of points to remain members.

      “We worked at the balloon festival,” Murphy said. “That was with the city of  Plano Key Club which is where we get a lot of our projects. They often need us to help them do the projects they do. They’ll ask us to give them people and then we ask anyone if they want to help and go out into the community and give back. We’re doing a bingo night soon at a retirement center. This Saturday we had a bunch of people go to the Plano Food Pantry and help feed the women there.”

      Murphy has a lot of expectations for Key Club this year and wants to see the members impacted by it.

     “I really want people to see the different sides of things and how volunteering is not something you should do to be in a club,” Murphy said. “You should do it because it’s better for the community and for society. You don’t want to be volunteering just so you can say you’re in NHS or you’re in STUCO. You want to be volunteering because it’s the right thing to do. You have so much to offer, you have so many chances. You should really just be able to take what you have and give back to the community a little bit.


     They plan Homecoming down to every last detail. They single-handedly coordinate one of the largest blood drives in the nation and the male beauty pageant Mr. Plano. They create the Restroom Readers and hand washing signs. Student Congress students are behind everything from the school-wide events to small projects that contribute to making the school a better place.

      “Everything you thought the administration or the teachers or some unknown body did, is all actually STUCO,” president and senior Monica Plenger said. “Projects like Stay Day, Duck Week, homecoming, Mr. Plano, Blood Drive are all put on by STUCO members and officers. Together, our purpose is to make Plano a happier and more positive place and promote pride in our school.”

     STUCO is no recent thing. It’s long contributed to student life and the school environment.

     “It’s definitely an old organization,” Plenger said. “We go to our closets and find binders from the ’80s and ’90s. I’m not exactly sure when STUCO really picked up as doing all our big projects, but I know that it’s been a tradition for us to be heavily involved in the school for quite some time.”

     Vice president and senior Madeline Milby said STUCO is an organization that really allows its members to have an influence in our school.

      “We have a lot of tradition and pride in our projects and we have had people who have done it before us so we have to keep that going,” Milby said. “I feel STUCO really gives students the chance to experience some fun because  I feel like we really get caught up in school and things like that. STUCO kids learn valuable lessons in teamwork, time management and taking pride in what you’re doing.”

     As an active member, senior McKay Paxman said that STUCO has provided her with a unique high school experience.

     “It’s made me want to help people a lot more,” Paxman said. “You get to experience being a leader and being able to help out around the school. It makes you want to strive to do that on your own. It makes you a better person.”

     STUCO is completely student-run. Sponsors do play a role in supervising and advising and officers are in constant contact with the administration. However, everything that STUCO accomplishes is solely carried out by the students.

     “For example, Duck Week was dreamt up by a member who really loved the ducks in our pond and wanted to honor them,” Plenger said. “So the week about the ducks came about, and is now a tradition at Plano.”

     According to Plenger, there are various benefits to participating in STUCO.

     “You get to see everything the school does from a behind the scenes perspective,” Plenger said. “As a result members feel that much more pride in their projects because they know that they were there making those poster and advertising for that project and that they were tying those ribbons on those teachers’ gifts.”

     To Milby, STUCO is an irreplaceable part of the school.

     “I don’t think our school would be the same without STUCO – none of the projects, none of the events would be happening without it,” Milby said. “We are what makes those projects happen. I feel like we also give another sense of appreciation to our teachers or to different organizations around the school. We help give Plano that extra ‘oomph’ that we all need to make it the reason you look forward to going to school each morning.”


     They are recognized by their identical maroon shirts wherever they go. National Honor Society students give their weekends and school nights to give to those who are in need, learn about stepping up as a leader and strive to succeed in the classroom.

     “NHS is an organization built around core ideals that promote service, leadership and academia,” junior Michael Luu said. “It’s where high-achieving students can serve in the community and become more well-rounded as students and citizens in our school and in our community.”

     Co-president and senior Frank Cai said the true meaning and motto of NHS is broadcasted on the back of every members shirt.

     “Our motto is ‘noblesse oblige’, which means noble obligation,” Cai said. “It’s a broad definition of just having an obligation to really help the community, help those around you, and help those who aren’t as fortunate as us.”

     Co-president and senior Christina Qiu said the chapter is really able to make an impact on the community.

     “I didn’t realize the magnitude of Plano,” Qiu said. “We’re huge. After we entered all the stuff in there were 500 plus members who met the GPA requirement of 3.6 and were willing to go do this on their extra time. It’s great, because we are also the most competitive school district and the fact that we have such a huge chapter makes you realize how much possibility you have as a school. You can change the community.”

     The mere size of NHS may turn students off and raise the question of whether or not a student can truly contribute all that much as one in a sea of many. Luu said that this is not by any means the case.

     “You can make a difference. By just showing up to the projects you’re already making a difference,” Luu said. “You may not be able to see it, but someone is taking note of it and appreciating your work, whatever you may be doing. It may seem like something that is insignificant, like picking up trash or moving shelves for a needy family, but it truly is still making an impact and bettering your community.”

    Cai said community service has played an important role in his life, and has changed his perspective of the world and helping others.

     “You really get to see the community around you,” Cai said. “A lot of the time we’re kind of isolated in our own zone and we’re not aware of what’s going on in the outside world. It really gives us a new perspective. It is heartwarming in the sense that you see the problems and you truly want to go help and do your best to change it.”

     NHS has specific requirements and standards for each of its members, which can make it difficult to commit to. However, Luu challenged the idea that it is hard to be a part of NHS at all and said at least for him, his love for community service makes the commitment worth it.

      “It you are in NHS and you enjoy service and leading and challenging yourself to serve others there’s nothing hard about that,” Luu said. “It’s something you love and something you do. I love getting a chance to help others and spending time with people in need and people that really appreciate our help.  It’s a different feeling when you get out there and make a difference for people that really appreciate it.”

     Cai said being truly motivated as a member will change the overall community.

     “There are a lot of people genuinely interested in helping the community and it’s nice to see that there’s people like this out there that are making a difference,” Cai said. “We’re also trying to become more integrated into the school, so we’re trying to do more school events that make the school fun and promote school spirit for students.”

     In its first weeks, NHS member have already began to fill up spots for sign up opportunities with requests for service projects to contribute to their community.

     “I just completed my first project,” Luu said. “And so far I love the way the officers run it. I love the way we use the projects. I love the way the officers are really dedicated. I love how the sponsors are really on top of things. I love the sheer size or the organization. It’s bigger and better.”