West Magnet K-Kids recognized for dedication to helping others

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published October 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 4, 2013 at 10:48 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Nick Hillemann

The K-Kids at West Magnet Elementary School in Batesville are, from the left, Alex Keller, 10, vice president; Keely Robins, 10, Fifth-grade representative; Maggie Vanemburg, 11, secretary; Hannah Driver, 11, K-Family chair; Lily Gilliham, 11, president; teacher Ronda Bryant; and Madelyn Cunningham, 10, service chair.

BATESVILLE — The Kiwanis International K-Kids at West Magnet Elementary School in Batesville are doing big things and are receiving international recognition for their work.

According to its website, the Kiwanis K-Kids organization is focused on helping others, and worldwide more than 36,000 children are learning leadership through service.

Ronda Bryant, a fourth-grade literature teacher at West Magnet Elementary School, is the K-Kids sponsor at the Batesville school and is also a Kiwanian.

The West Magnet club was just awarded with an International Distinguished Club Award for 2012-2013 by Kiwanis International.

“[Award recipients] have to submit reports at the end of the year on how you hold your meetings,” Bryant said. “You also have to submit what [your club] does, and how often you do it and who benefits from it.”

West Magnet’s K-Kids were presented with the award at their first meeting of the year.

Bryant said the student organization began in the 1990s in Florida, and the club in Batesville was one of the first K-Kids groups in the Missouri-Arkansas Kiwanis District.

“It was the third one in the world,” Bryant said. “When I got [to West Magnet], the club had kind of fizzled out, and I restarted it.”

She said last year was the first for the club to be reactivated. Kiwanis International has played a large role in Bryant’s life, and she’s been involved since she was in elementary school.

“I grew up in a Kiwanis family,” Bryant said.

She was a K-Kid and was involved with Builders Club (the Kiwanis club for adolescents) and then Key Club in high school. She and her sister started a chapter of Circle K International in college at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Circle K is an organization for college students who want to give back to their communities.

“I like for the kids to give back to the community,” Bryant said. “It’s important for them to know how to help others and have that service mindset.”

Sixth-grader Lily Gillihan, age 11, is president of K-Kids this year and was involved with the club last year.

“I found out about K-Kids, and I thought I wanted to help the community,” she said.

Lily said the club did an angel tree for area children at Christmastime, a trash pickup in the community and a food drive for needy families called Christmas Brings Hope.

Hannah Driver, 11, is the K-Family chair of K-Kids at West Magnet. She communicates with the high school Kiwanis organizations about projects which involve the elementary club.

“I’ve wanted to give back my entire life, and I thought [K-Kids] was a great opportunity to give back,” Hannah said. There are 102 children who are members of the West Magnet Elementary K-Kids organization, Bryant said. Members in the West Magnet club are in fourth through sixth grades.

“We’re excited about this year,” Bryant said.

The club has plans to continue the angel tree project this year and a food drive during the holidays, along with living the K-Kids pledge:

“As a K-Kid, I promise to serve my neighborhood and school; I will show respect toward my environment; and I will try to make the world a better place in which to live.”

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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