By SANTOSH COORG, ’14
The 67th Annual New Jersey Key Club District Convention, held in Long Branch, NJ, aimed to celebrate the many successes of the district over the past year. Bringing together Key Clubbers from over a hundred schools, this event was a way to both end a service year and begin a new one. The theme of the weekend, the Roaring Twenties, was incorporated into everything from the programs to the decorations to the lingo. Even the program of events provided a 1920s dictionary, including words such as “nifty” (great), “spiffy” (elegant), and “beef” (a complaint).
The weekend started on Friday evening with a keynote session, during which District Governor Nicole Ventrone, a senior from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, introduced the 2013-2014 District Project: the Eliminate Project. This service initiative strives to eradicate maternal neonatal tetanus from third world countries by 2015. Christopher Addonizio, District Project Steering Co-Chairperson, announced that, with the help of Key Clubs in New Jersey, this deadly disease has already been eradicated from nine countries.
Next was the keynote speaker, Mrs. Monica Gupta Jain, a former Key Club District Governor. She spoke about her experiences in Key Club and the lasting effects it had on her life. In particular, she recounted a story of when an intruder broke into her house, stole some of her money and jewelry, tied her up, and threatened to kill her, but left her with her life. What Mrs. Jain wanted to teach from her frightening experience was that no matter the struggles, individuals must always believe in themselves.
Saturday morning consisted of several workshops, including training sessions for various executive positions at the club level. As senior Akriti Nagpal, JP’s Key Club Vice President, recounts, “DCON is always a perfect way to end our service year. It’s a weekend in which we get to showcase the best parts of JP’s Key Club, and participate in contests, shows, and leadership-building workshops. Though it’s bittersweet that this is my last DCON, I could not have asked for a better experience or better people to spend it with.”
On Saturday afternoon, most Key Clubbers were given free time to spend time at the beach and nearby boardwalk. Others, such as juniors Daniel Shah and Konya Badsa, participated in the oratorical contest and auditioned for the evening talent show.
In the Recognition Session, the JP Stevens Key Club won several awards. These include first place for the club website, awarded to junior Gaurav Chawla, second place in Major Emphasis, awarded to juniors Zahra Malik, Gurleen Kaur, Anjali Dave, and senior Akshi Dhawan, and third place in the oratorical contest to junior Daniel Shah. Distinguished Club Officer awards were presented to seniors Drishti Chhabria, Akriti Nagpal, Nikhila Manchikanti, Maalin Doshi, Parth Patel, Hamsitha Jupalli, Amoli Kulkarni and juniors Sani Shah and Gaurav Chawla. Junior Riddhi Patel received the the Golden Member award. Finally, JP’s Key Club as a whole won third place in the Platinum Single Service category, second in the digital and hand-drawn poster contest and third in the scrapbook contest. Senior Shruti Patel exclaimed, “As a senior, DCON was memorable because we got to spend the weekend with friends as well as see our hard work rewarded.”
Sunday morning’s farewell session brought a tide of sighs and nostalgia. Through DCON, Key Club participants gained a stronger sense of community, leaving with a single, united single goal — to serve others.