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Keep up with the latest news and excitement from around the Carolinas!

"Bean" There, Done That: Chicago ICON 2018

Sara Pinkowski

From June 30 to July 9, 2018, the Carolinas District assembled over seventy Key Club members from across North and South Carolina to represent the district in Chicago at the 75th annual Key Club International Convention. Tour members enjoyed amazing theme parks along the route into and out of the city, as well as the many attractions the city itself has to offer. We hope you can feel the excitement radiating from our tour attendees in the following descriptions and photos of this truly once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Saturday, June 30


On Saturday morning, tour attendees gathered in Kernersville, NC to load the buses that would make the journey into Chicago. While some attendees boarded bus "Juicy Fruit" and others "Double Mint," all stopped in Medina, Ohio for the night after a long leg of the drive to rest up for the busy Sunday that would follow.

Sunday, July 1


Sunday morning began as soon as the gates to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio were opened. The entire day was spent enjoying the thrilling rides and attractions within the park, including the Maverick, Millennium Force, and Dragster. After a long day of lots of thrills (and sunscreen), the tour made its final trek into the Windy City itself.

Monday, July 2


The first full day in Chicago was just that-full of excursions! The first outing was a walk to Shedd Aquarium. At the aquarium, Key Club members were front-row for a live dolphin show that featured spectacular flips, tricks as well as education on the marine life at the aquarium and in the ocean. After exploring the aquarium exhibits and watching a 4-D movie about sharks, members were ready to sink their teeth into Aurelio's Pizza for lunch. The lunch buffet offered an array of pizzas and toppings, from cheese to chicken. With full stomachs, the tour took a relaxing turn to the Art Institute of Chicago, where members pondered over the works of artists like Andy Warhol and Georges Seurat. The final attractions of the evening were the infamous Bean at Millennium Park and the "Tilt" windows that overlook the city at the John Hancock building.

Tuesday, July 3


While members had the chance to admire the city's towering architecture throughout Monday's events, Tuesday's architectural riverboat tour offered a more formal, informational view of the city from the viewpoint of the reversed waterways of the Chicago River. Another staple Chicago meal was enjoyed for lunch on Tuesday at Portillo's. Some tried the Portillo's hot dog, others the classic Italian beef sandwich. No matter what was ordered, the flavors of the iconic restaurant were thoroughly enjoyed. Shortly after lunch, the Carolinas District broke into groups and hopped on the "L," Chicago's elevated train system, towards Addison Station. There, the district came face-to-face with the bright red marquee of Wrigley Field. Members experienced a live Chicago Cubs baseball game and cheered on the home team.

Wednesday, July 4


After a few hours to shop the stores along the infamous Magnificent Mile shopping district, the Carolinas District checked in to the convention hotel for the first night of the 75th annual Key Club International Convention. The convention kicked off with an opening session to get members excited about the amazing opportunities for personal growth and leadership development in the days ahead. To conclude the first night of convention, Carolinas Key Club members gathered at the top floor of the convention hotel-48 stories up-to watch the Fourth of July fireworks light up the night sky above the Navy Pier.

Thursday, July 5-Saturday, July 7


Over the course of three full days of International Convention activities, the Carolinas District garnered many accomplishments to be proud of. Not only did all four of the 2017-2018 Carolinas District Executive Officers receive Distinguished District Officer awards, but also, Mr. Larry Hewitt received the highly regarded Key of Honor award and immediate past Carolinas District Lieutenant Governor Leslie Truong was elected to the office of International Trustee. Furthermore, tour members represented the district exceedingly well in workshops, meet and greet opportunities, and other convention activities. Certainly many great lessons were learned about leadership, character and determination at this year's convention!

Sunday, July 8


Early Sunday morning, the Carolinas said goodbye to the city and began the journey back home. However, there was one more attraction planned before the tour festivities officially concluded: an evening at King's Island Amusement Park in Mason, Ohio. Just as with Cedar Point a week prior, members were amazed by the exhilarating rides and used the valuable time to share one more bonding experience with their new friends.

Monday, July 9

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to the close friends made over the course of the past nine days of the tour. Tour members boarded the buses early in the morning and completed the last leg of the ride home. Members took home trophies and awards, new friendships, and lasting memories. Without a doubt, this was truly an experience all attendees will recount upon fondly for years to come!

We hope you have enjoyed learning about our amazing ICON experience. If you feel compelled by the story of this journey, stay tuned throughout the upcoming year for information about how you can join next year's ICON tour to Baltimore, Maryland!

Preparing Your Palate for Chicago

Sara Pinkowski

When you imagine the tastes of Chicago, you may immediately think of the authentic deep dish pizza. While this iconic dish is a great representation of the rich flavors of the Windy City, there is an even greater variety of delectable meals that can be found all over the area. When you’re in Chicago with the Carolinas District for our International Convention tour this summer, make sure you grab a snack at these quintessential Chicago landmarks.

Pizzeria Uno

If you’re looking for a cheesy, delicious meal and you have some time on your hands (up to over an hour), look no further than Pizzeria Uno! At this original eating establishment, you can get your hands on an authentic deep dish pizza in about an hour for $25 per large pizza.


Do you love ballpark food? Get ready to take your obsession to the next level with a loaded hot dog from Portillo’s hot dog stands and restaurants. These fan-favorite dogs can be enjoyed for $5-$10 each.


Looking for a taste of home? While Carolina Barbeque is hard to beat, Chicago has taken their own spin on the delicious classic and garnered quite a name for it. At Smoque, you can enjoy the flavors of home, Chicago style for about $10-$15 a meal.

Al's Italian Beef

Chicago is for meat lovers. If you love the taste of beef, try the Italian Beef sandwich at Al’s Italian Beef for the reasonable price of $5.

Sweet Mandy B's

Did you know the chocolate brownie was first baked in Chicago? To celebrate the birthplace of the chocolate brownie, enjoy this sweet dessert at Sweet Mandy B’s in a variety of creative flavors for under $5.

ICON 2018: Join us this summer!

Erin Collums

What can you see in a 360 degree view of Chicago? In one glance from the Chicago Observation Deck, you’ll be able to view many of the exciting excursions in store for you on our 2018 Carolinas District International Convention Tour!

Read More

Key Club Week is Right Around the Corner!

Kyle Ingram


Five days designed to celebrate four core values, three tiers of student leaders, two words, and one organization: Key Club. Show your Key Club pride the week of November 6th-10th for Key Club Week. Once a year, all 275,000 Key Clubbers have the opportunity to celebrate one organization that brought us all together. Each day has a theme designed to boost membership, serve our community, work with our preferred charities, engage with our Kiwanis family, and thank those who dedicate their time and energy to Key Club. Show the enthusiasm, passion, dedication, and power that one student organization can have. This week is a wonderful time to encourage service for club members, friends, and your school


Start Monday, November 6th, by advertising your love and enthusiasm for Key Club. Spread the word about Key Club by wearing Key Club gear all day. Encourage other club members to participate and be prepared to answer questions that may be asked about the club you are representing. If your club traditionally makes club t-shirts, try and get them ordered and delivered by November 6th so all of your members have the ability to spread the word. Also, make sure to post your Key Club spirit on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. You can also ask your school to announce Key Club week in morning announcements and publicize the occasion on your school’s website. Monday is a great way to shed a light on our organization and help others learn about the impact they can have on their home, school, and community.


On Tuesday, November 7th, your club has an opportunity to say “thank you” to the many people who have made Key Club possible at your school. Firstly, thank your members. Celebrate their membership by hosting a pizza party at lunch, giving them a shout out on morning announcements, or just giving them a high five when you pass them in the hallway. It is important to never forget that every club starts with dedicated members. Secondly, make sure that you thank club officers for the hard work they put in to keep the club running smoothly. Say “thank you” when you pass by them in the hallway or write them a letter to commemorate all of their hard work. Thirdly, thank your principal for allowing Key Club to be a part of the school. Show your appreciation for their support by writing them a card signed by the club, having club officers bring them a basket of goodies as a thank you, or some other sign of gratitude. Another important person you need to thank is your faculty advisor. This faculty member at your school has to balance both their regular, demanding job as a high school teacher as well as working to keep your Key Club running. You can write them a card with signatures from all of your club’s members, send a personal note and ask other members to do the same, drop off goodies on their desk, give them a shoutout for their hard work, or give them an appreciative smile and a genuine “thank you” at some point throughout the day. In addition to thanking your faculty advisor, don’t forget to thank your Kiwanis advisor, who is an important part of the chartering of your club and is the connecting link between your club and sponsoring Kiwanis club. You can thank them in similar ways as you thank a faculty advisor or hold an event, such as an appreciation dinner, to commemorate your sponsoring Kiwanis club, faculty and Kiwanis advisor, principal, and club officers. However you choose to celebrate November 7th, make sure that all of the important pieces of your club are thanked because without them, Key Club would not be possible.


On Wednesday, November 8th, celebrate the impact that Key Club can have with our preferred charities. Key Club International’s preferred charities are UNICEF, March of Dimes, Children’s Miracle Network, and the Thirst Project. If you are unfamiliar with these organizations and their relationship with Key Club International, reference their description under the “Service” tab on the Carolinas Key Club website. Use this Wednesday to advocate for important causes, raise money, and impact change for international charities. You can help by holding a fundraiser, asking members or students at your school to wear ribbons with one of the charities corresponding official color, or hold a service project to help one of the preferred charities. One example of a project you could do would be making slip-free socks for your club’s local Children’s Miracle Network hospital. Wednesday is exciting because there are a variety of ways that your club could participate, depending on your school’s policy, skill sets, and desires. Whether your goal is to spread awareness about these organizations, do a fundraiser, make something for one of the charities, or do a combination of these things, you will be making a difference in a worldwide effort.


On Thursday, November 9th, you have a wonderful opportunity to spread kindness in your home, school, and community. Kindness goes a long way, as even a simple smile can affect a person’s attitude for the day. Boost positivity and morale in your school by doing random acts of kindness. For example, have your members write motivating quotes and phrases and use them to decorate lockers, bathroom mirrors, and classroom doors. You can also ask your members to make a conscious effort to be kind on Thursday, by holding doors, complimenting others, smiling at strangers, eating with someone who is sitting alone at lunch, offering to carry someone’s books to class for them, or some other small, thoughtful action. You’d be surprised how much one small gesture can impact others. You can also promote kindness in your local community. One example would be to paint “Kindness Rocks”, where you paint an inspirational message on a rock and place it in a public place for others to see and enjoy. However your club chooses to celebrate Thursday of Key Club Week, make sure they realize the difference they can make through little actions and push them to make the random acts of kindness into daily choices they make.


Finish your Key Club Week strong! On Friday, November 10th, celebrate your Kiwanis family. There are six branches of the Kiwanis family, which can all be utilized for your final day of Key Club celebration. Reach out to local Kiwanis, Circle K, Builders, K-Kids, and Aktion clubs and plan an event with at least one of these groups to complete a service project. Try to plan a social service project, where people can work and talk at the same time, allowing for the different branches of the Kiwanis family to get closer throughout the duration of the event. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to explain the different organizations sponsored by Kiwanis to members on Friday.

Key Club week is a great way to engage with members, advisors, the student body, community, and other branches of the Kiwanis family. There are so many wonderful things you can do to personalize Key Club Week to the specific wants and needs of your club, and creativity is encouraged. Make sure to use #mycarolinaskey for all of your adventures during Key Club Week. The Carolinas District hopes that you enjoy your Key Club Week and are able to raise enthusiasm about an organization that will be celebrated in 38 countries the week of November 6th-10th.

Our Amazing ICON Experience

Kyle Ingram

From July 2nd-11th the Carolinas District had an amazing time on our trip to the 74th annual Key Club International Convention! This year, the convention was held in the beautiful and historic city of San Antonio, TX. Attendees embarked on a 9-day trip to and from the convention, during which time we saw such sights as New Orleans, the Johnson Space Center, the Alamo, and a few surprise visits planned by our District Administrator, Scott Johnson. The convention itself was an educational, energetic, and enlightening experience which we are all sure to remember for a long time to come. We are also proud to say that the Carolinas District brought the largest number of attendees to the convention, with 84 students and adult chaperones in attendance! Read below to find out what we did on each day of the trip and see photo slideshows, courtesy of our spectacular photographer, Larry Hewett. Make sure to click on the photos to go through the slideshow. 

Sunday, July 2nd

The Carolinas District met in Pineville, NC to kick off our trip to the 74th Key Club International Convention in San Antonio, TX. Students gathered at the Comfort Suites to check in, socialize, and go over the itinerary for the trip before leaving in the morning. Attendees were also presented with a convention t-shirt, pins for trading at the convention, and even an LED fidget spinner to pass the time on the long bus rides! After a debriefing from Mr. Johnson, attendees were sent to their rooms to get a good night’s rest before the long trip in the morning.

Monday, July 3rd

After boarding the bus early in the morning, attendees settled in for the 12-hour ride to Monroe, LA. Most of us got a few extra hours of sleep in our seats, cuddling up with pillows and blankets from home. After getting some sleep, attendees settled in to watch a few movies, including Harry Potter and the Three Amigos! After a long day of driving, the Carolinas District arrived at the Comfort Suites in Monroe, LA for some much-needed sleep.

Tuesday, July 4th

With the longest travel day over, attendees prepared for a fun day of touring on Independence Day! First, attendees visited the iconic Duck Dynasty Warehouse in Monroe, LA. Though the warehouse was closed for the national holiday, visitors were able to take some photos outside the famous building. After a few more hours of scenic travel, attendees arrived in Dallas for a surprise visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library! The Carolinas District was able to learn more about an important part in our country’s history, and even visit a life-size replica of the Oval Office! After visiting the library, we headed to Arlington to check in to our hotel and relax for a few hours before leaving for the Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox baseball game! Though the Rangers didn’t win the game, attendees certainly felt the Texas spirit in the stadium with the enthusiastic cheers from spectators and tremendous fireworks show to celebrate the 4th of July. After a truly spectacular performance, we headed back to the Springhill Suites to get some rest.

Wednesday, July 5th

After a complimentary hotel breakfast, attendees boarded the bus for our trip into Dallas to see the spot where our 35th President, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza. On the way to Dallas, attendees watched the movie JFK, which explores the conspiracy theories surrounding the president’s death, and the investigators who looked into them. With our suspicions raised, we arrived at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which documents the events of JFK’s presidency and assassination. Before entering the museum, attendees were able to explore Dealey Plaza and see the marks in the road where the president was shot as well as the window from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly committed the murder. Once inside the museum, attendees learned about JFK’s accomplishments, as well as the details of his murder. We were even able to stand right next to the window where Lee Harvey Oswald shot those fatal bullets! After this exciting experience, attendees piled onto the bus to find another surprise in store. Due to extra time, we would be able to visit the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library before arriving at the convention! That’s two presidential libraries in just one trip! At the library, we were able to learn about JFK’s famous successor, and the events of his presidency. After learning about another prominent president, attendees headed to the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio to begin the convention. After arriving at the hotel and registering as convention participants, we attended a dynamic opening session full of music, motivation, and information for the rest of the convention. Convention hosts announced that the theme for the convention would the three domains of Key Club, which include the Courage to Engage, the Call to Lead, and the Heart to Serve. Each day would focus on one of these key domains. After the session, we attended a meet and greet event to get to know Key Club members from other districts and trade Key Club pins with them! As always, the Carolina Key pins exclusive to our district were a huge hit at convention. After the meet and greet we headed back to our rooms for some rest before the first full day of convention.

Thursday, July 6th

For our first group session, attendees entered the ballroom to find all of the chairs were gone! Hosts issued cards to everyone as they entered and then tasked us with finding those with the same number card as us and creating a group. This was all in the interest of learning about the first domain of Key Club: The Courage to Engage. Through a variety of activities, participants split into smaller groups and engaged with those around them. From discussing the best parts of ourselves, to our favorite holiday traditions, we learned about the people around us and were able to come out of our shells with one another. After lunch, we were able to choose three workshops to attend for the next few hours. Options included improving public speaking, Lieutenant Governor training, and planning a district event! After these educational experiences, attendees were free to get dinner along the famous San Antonio Riverwalk! Once we returned to the hotel we headed to another group session to learn about the Courage to Engage. We were greeted by our guest speaker, Erin Fisher from the Leadership and Training Studio, who spoke to us about finding authentic confidence. At the end of the session, Ms. Fisher invited our very own Tommy Ray Davis II from Silver Ray Bluff High School to the stage to lead a quick dance party! Check it out here! After this powerful session, attendees met back in the ballroom for a dance! We had a great time dancing the night away with Key Club members from across the world before heading back to our rooms for the night.

Friday, July 7th

We kicked off the day with a group session centered around answering the Call to Lead. Our guest speaker was Neha Gupta, an International Children’s Peace Prize winner! She spoke to us about how she answered the Call to Lead in her community by working to support local orphanages by donating the supplies that they needed. Later, we headed to caucusing where we heard from over 30 candidates for international office, including our District’s very own, Lindsey Banks! After casting our votes and getting some dinner, we headed to the Recognition Session in the ballroom. At the session, all 4 of last year’s Executive Officers were awarded with the Distinguished Officer award! Not only that, but Cape Fear High School in the Carolinas District won third place for their non-digital poster!

Saturday, July 8th

For our final group session, we heard Jess Ekstrom, the CEO and founder of Headbands of Hope, speak to us about discovering our Heart to Serve. Her company donates a headband to a girl going through chemotherapy for every headband sold. After a break for lunch, we returned to the convention center for House of Delegates. After hearing from each of the candidates one more time, we casted our votes again and waited for the results. Our hosts revealed that William Sims had been elected International President, and Minyoung Kim had been elected International Vice President. International Trustee results would not be revealed until the closing session, so we kept our fingers crossed for Lindsey! After going out to get some dinner, we returned for our final session at ICON. We watched as our old International Board was retired on stage before the new International Board was announced. The Carolina’s own, Lindsey Banks won International Trustee among 10 other charismatic and qualified individuals! The new board was installed on stage and we gave a big Carolinas round of applause for Lindsey and the rest of the new board. After the installation, we headed to the Drury Hotel in Houston to kick off the second half of our tour.

Sunday, July 9th

The Carolinas District visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston for an amazing 3-hour tour of the historic facilities and museum exhibits. Attendees were able to see where multiple space explorations were manned, as well as learn more about astronomy and science in the museum! After our visit, we began the ride to New Orleans for the next part of our tour. Once we arrived at the beautiful Drury Hotel in New Orleans, we unpacked our things before taking a carriage ghost tour throughout the city! New Orleans was both beautiful and eerie at night, and we heard many interesting and spooky stories from our charismatic tour guides. We grabbed some dinner after the ride and then settled back in at the hotel for some sleep.

Monday, July 10th

Attendees were free to explore New Orleans in groups of 6 until 4 p.m.! Students ate beignets at the famous Café Du Monde, shopped at various souvenir shops, visited the St. Louis Cathedral, and ate authentic Cajun food! Despite some heavy rain towards the end of our tour, we hate a great time discovering everything that New Orleans had to offer. After exploring, we headed to Impasto’s Restaurant on the outskirts of New Orleans for a fancy 5-course family meal. With our bellies full of pasta, chicken parmesan, and ice cream, we boarded the bus for our journey to Tuscaloosa, AL- where we would spend the night before leaving for home in the morning.

Tuesday, July 11th

We woke up bright and early in Tuscaloosa to begin our trip back home to Pineville, NC. After a long drive and a pit stop at a peach shop in South Carolina, we arrived back in Pineville to reunite with our family and friends after a long trip. We had an amazing time at the convention, but we were all happy to be back home with those who we had missed for the past week. We can’t wait for next year’s convention in Chicago, IL!