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!