Since the day Arizona Charter Academy (ACA) first opened its doors, the teachers and staff from the Surprise school have strived to make strong connections with local organizations and the community.
One of the many ways that ACA has achieved this goal is through its ongoing and strong partnership with the Surprise Rotary.
In addition to helping out with a number of school events and projects, including volunteering at Back to School Nights, the annual Golf Tournament and helping the school earn Advanced Accreditation, members of the Surprise Rotary are heavily involved with the school’s Interact Club, which currently has 33 middle school members.
As Jay Lickus, Immediate Past President and Current Public Relations Chair for the Surprise Rotary noted, club members have assisted with a number of Interact Club projects, including Crutches 4 Africa, Purple Pinky Day for Polio, Holiday Food Drives, a Peacebuilder Essay Contest and the ACA Fundraising Car Wash.
Jeri Robertson, a sixth grade English teacher and Interact Club Advisor, said her Interact Club members are currently working with the Surprise Rotary Club on the Crutches 4 Africa project.
“Students are collecting crutches, wheelchairs and walkers that will be taken to their spring conference where they will shrink wrap them and load them on trucks to be shipped to Africa,” she said.
“Known as Crutches 4 Africa, this is a state-wide Interact project to provide support for people in Africa who have been afflicted with polio, many of whom crawl on the ground to get anywhere or are carried by other people.”
The Interact Club students also participated in the City of Surprise MLK day of service on Saturday, January 18 and they are currently working on creating a video about the club to enter into an annual competition.
“The students have a lot of fun with the activities and they get excited when they see members of the Rotary Club out in public or at the meetings,” Robertson said, adding that the club members treat them very respectfully and help them learn how to organize and lead meetings.
“One event they especially enjoy is walking behind the Rotary Club float in the Veteran's Day parade, handing out candy to the children watching the parade, and thanking veterans for their service.”
As Lickus noted, he and the Surprise Rotary Club members definitely enjoy the partnership with the Interact club. In addition to appreciating the willingness of ACA and the Interact Club to support the Rotary’s service projects, Lickus said the partnership has helped ACA to become a better education resource in the community.
“We also enjoy watching the students grow in confidence, both personally and as leaders,” Lickus said.
Francisco Olaiz, an eighth grader at ACA and Co-President of the Interact Club said that the partnership with the Rotary Club is one of the main reasons he likes being part of the group.
“I originally joined to help the community and I’ve stayed in the club for three years because through the Rotary Club that sponsors us, I’ve seen the impact of what we students have done. This showed me that no matter your age, you can still help others in many different ways.”