Local Schools and Service to Youth
Int-286Interact Clubs

 Interact is a service club for youth ages twelve to eighteen. Interactor's improve the quality of life in their communities and around the world. The Sebastopol Rotary Club sponsors four Interact Clubs. 

Analy High School Interact was established there in 1969 and currently has over 150 members. Analy Interact meetings are at 12:35 p.m. Wednesdays in the Choir Room. 

Brook Haven Middle School Interact was started by Ken Jacobs and Edwin Wilson in 1995. It was the second junior high Interact Club started in the world. There are currently 40 members. Brookhaven Interact meetings are at 12:40 p.m. on first and third Tuesdays in Room 7. 

Hillcrest Middle School Interact was started by Jackie Moreira and Dave Skram in 2003. It is the third Interact Club and second Junior High Club for The Sebastopol Rotary Club. There are currently 40 members. Hillcrest Interact meetings are on the second and fourth Wednesday in Room 6. 

Orchard View School Interact was started by Sean Madison and Ken Jacobs in 2010. It is the fourth Interact Club for The Sebastopol Rotary Club. There are currently 20 members. 
These organizations teach the students about the importance of community service and trains future leaders. Students learn leadership, citizenship, teamwork, organization and project coordination skills. The Interact clubs form a service partnership with the Sebastopol Rotary and lend their support to a variety of projects. The Interactor's are also responsible for planning, financing, organizing and carrying out their own activities and projects. Each club has two Rotarian advisor's and a teacher advisor. These advisor's provide guidance and inspiration to the students and act as liaisons with the sponsoring Rotary Club. Each club has a slate of officers and project committees. 

Learn to Swim Program 

The Learn to Swim Program sponsored by the Sebastopol Rotary Club was first established in 1983. As one of the volunteer coordinators of this Program, I have observed how the Learn to Swim Program has provided the community of Sebastopol with a vital, hands- on service. The project has relied heavily on volunteers, who give their time and expertise so that youngsters may learn water safety. The Program offers a solid basic foundation for acquiring swimming skills, and teaches Sebastopol Second Graders how to swim. 

The following is a quote from a 1987 second grade participant in the Program: 

"The Learn to Swim Program taught me the skill, safety and confidence that is needed to gain pleasure from swimming." I have fond memories of learning how to swim in Ives Pool. Although I was introduced to swimming at an early age, the Learn to Swim Program made me feel more at ease in the water. With the help of instructors who created an aura of comfort and safety in the pool ('we have complete control of what goes on in here', they would say) I gained the confidence needed to really expand my swimming skills. I still spend a lot of time around the water, whether I am at the pool or at the river. Although the river poses more of a swimming danger than the pool, I am able to face the river with 'tips' from my old instructors on water safety in my mind. I stall recall the voices of some of my instructors, telling me how to breathe safely and relax in the water. The 'strokes' I learned when in the Learn to Swim Program I use today, for the swim instructors laid a wonderful foundation for swimming when I was merely a second grader. I learned many things from the Program, more than just how to swim. It is important for one to feel, especially while growing up, that a safe and comfortable place exists in their community. After learning how to swim the pool became a such a place-safe, comfortable, and fun, whether I was with friends and family or by myself. The instructors taught me to overcome fears I has surrounding the water, and I still sometimes hear their encouraging voices when I must overcome certain fears today."

The Learn to Swim Program introduces children to a sport that can provide great enjoyment. Some participants go on to become part of a swim team and swim competitively, while others are instilled with the reliance and confidence needed to enjoy other water activities such as water skiing or kayaking. It is very likely that the lessons learned via the Program saves lives as well. The Learn to Swim Program is just one example of how the Sebastopol Rotary Club is pursuing its vision of community service.


The Dictionary Program 

The Dictionary Program is a joint project with several Rotary Clubs in the area to donate a new Dictionary to all local third graders. Our club makes the presentation to the class using two or three Rotarian's who personally hand each child a book. Some of the students have never owned a book before so they are quite surprised when they learn they get to keep their new book. During our weekly meetings we ask our guest speaker to sign a placard which is then attached to the inside of one of the dictionaries and designates that book is given in the speaker's name. 

Dictionaries are distributed to the following elementary schools: Pinecrest, Pleasant Hills Christian, Apple Blossom, Orchard View, Gravenstein, Oak Grove, Sebastopol Charter, Parkside, Salmon Creek. 

Vocational Awards Program 

Our club supports vocational education at Analy and El Molino High schools by honoring the vocational achievement of its students each school year. The students are chosen for the award by their teachers.. The students are given a framed certificate and a check for $125.00 for their achievement. The students and their teaches are invited to our Rotary meeting to receive the award. Pictures are taken and a brief article appears in our local newspaper. At the end of the school year, a teacher is chosen as the most outstanding vocational instructor, and is given $300.00 and a certificate. 


2011 Awardees 

Overcoming Obstacles Award 

Sebastopol Rotary's 'Overcoming Obstacles Award' is intended to recognize and assist those graduating high school students who were dealt a few bad cards, or maybe even a bad hand, yet through perseverance and character, sought and received help, matured and prioritized, perhaps helped others, and have plans for continuing their education towards a career. With the help of high school counselors, and Career Center Coordinators, 6 students are chosen, 2 each from Analy, El Molino, and Laguna High Schools, who exhibited these qualities and showed academic improvement in their Junior and Senior years.

The participants attend a leadership seminar where several Rotarians and community leaders met with the students to discuss their own careers, and tell about hardships that they had to overcome. At the luncheon meeting the students presented their own stories. One of the students was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the school of their choice, based on their participation and application as determined by a panel of judges. The remaining students were to receive a $200 scholarship for participating. After hearing the moving, emotional, and well told stories of each student, club members quickly persuaded each other to raise the funds to give each student the $1,000 award. It is hoped that this program will expand to include more students in the future.
During 2014-15, the scholarship amounts were increased to $2,000 for the "winner" and $1,000 for each of the other participants, although it is the feeling of the club that they are all "winners".


2011 Recipients: Dakota Kantala, Renee Montes, Rachel Gilligan, Meg Burton, Gabby Eastham, Jessica Beaty, Emcee Efren Carrillo
Newspaper Article

Speech Contest 

Our club provides a venue for students of the three local high schools to develop their communication skills. The competition features a speech presentation of six minutes to the club membership. The subject matter chosen for the contestants challenges the presenters to take a position on timely issues that reflect the principles of Rotary. Cash prizes are awarded to the first through third places ($125, $75, $50) but all participants will receive at least $25 for their effort. 


2011 Participants 

Cool Kids Camp

The Cool Kids Camp program is a unique program supported by most of the Rotary Clubs in Sonoma County.  Unfortunately, there are youngsters in our county whose lives are fraught with difficulties, including abuse, trauma, behavioral and socio-emotional challenges.  The Cool Kids Camp program works with local authorities to send qualified youngsters to a camp where they can just be kids and have a break from their daily adversities. This program provides funding for as many as 40 at-risk youngsters to spend a week having fun at the Cloverleaf Ranch.  At Cloverleaf they have a chance to forget the trials and tribulations of daily and be entertained in a life-altering camp set in 160 acres on the north side of Santa Rosa.  Our club sponsored 3 children to the camp this year.  
Financial Literacy Program 

In 2009, our board of directors envisioned an initiative to address a glaring need in our education system. Only 1 in 7 high school graduates have had any financial literacy education at all. Especially given the current economic conditions, it is more imperative than ever that our youth get at least a basic understanding of financial principles.

Our goal is to reach EVERY senior in our two local high schools during the month before graduation. In 2010,our first year, we impacted 500-600 kids in 13 classes. Economics is a required course for all seniors, and we speak to these kids just as many are about to face managing their own finances for the first time.

Our club hand-picks local professionals, many of which are Rotarians, in a variety of appropriate careers to be guest speakers in the classrooms. Some of the topics include savings and investing, budgeting, credit cards and debt, balancing a checkbook, taxes, insurance, and charitable giving. We are hoping this program will carry on for many years to come and perhaps spread to other Rotary clubs and districts. 
Power Point Presentation

ImageRYLA - Website

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award is a very valuable exercise in vocational development, which our club unanimously endorses. Because of the proximity to the R.Y.L.A. training facility, many of our members participate as discussion leaders, mentors, or Bar-B-Q chefs. We see this as a great program for development of leaders in our community and the state. Our Club has budgeted $2,500 for five students. 


Read to Me Program 

The "Read to Me Program" started as a reading support program with just 3rd Graders at Pine Crest School in 1998.  It is now a multi-faceted tutoring program serving Kindergarten to 5th Graders at Park Side & Brook Haven schools in Sebastopol. It grows and changes with the needs. The program was started by our own Rotarians, Patti Blount and Pauline Pellini. We are proud of it. But more than that, it is a program that touches youngsters' lives, and improves on their chances for a better future. 

Mel Davis, a Sebastopol Rotarian and volunteer since the start, points out, "At first, we weren't told much about why the student had been selected". But now the Program Coordinator, Deborah Drehmel is permitted to share a students information form from the teacher. The volunteers are also being given more prep guidance. We're encouraged to ask the readers, "What does this word mean?" Or, "What is this story about?" 

Sometimes there can be an unexpected result from the work with a student. Mel reports that "At the start of this last spring I asked about a student who is no longer assigned. Earlier, I had told the Coordinator that the boy would mispronounce the second word in every paragraph. For example, he would pronounce "Stay" as "Say." I spent weeks trying to figure out what was prompting this. I was baffled. Nor could the coordinator find an answer at first. But when I walked in the door this fall, Ms. Drehmel told me 'Yes, he has a unique impediment. He has been assigned a trained tutor.' It made me feel good that I had been part of that, giving him another chance." 

The most shared reaction from the Rotary Volunteers are: "You soon realize that the kids you are assigned look forward to your visit. There's no stigma. They're faces light up, and they rush to get their books. It's almost as if it's a privilege for them to be assigned this special attention." 

Judy Skram expressed a common sentiment of the volunteers: "The children are so special. I know some don't have time to read at home, or their parents cannot read or speak English. So I'm glad that they get attention from us. It's the one-on-one that makes a difference." 

Deborah Drehmel, the Program Coordinator, thanks the Sebastopol Rotary Club for the $5,000 our club earmarks each year for Read to Me. Besides the coordinator's position, the funds go to create Read to Me Libraries, which has now built up to a hefty 800 volumes at each school. Rotary has also paid for 20 literacy games and plays that encourage the children to think. The games challenge the volunteers as well. Ms. Drehmel points out, 'I notice that the Rotarian's aren't hesitant to join in the games. Often, it is the students who win, though!' " 

If you'd like to spend an hour or two a week to be a
volunteer, contact Deborah Drehmel at 829-3886 or dremichmel@gmail.com. Rotarian's and Non Rotarian's are welcome. No experience needed, and training provided. We need more volunteers for a weekly commitment of an hour, or as standby volunteers.