When Barbi Lewis tells people she is president of the Kite and Key Society, most respond by asking if that means she is the University's top tour giver. "Most people just see us as the guides," Lewis said last week. But while tours for prospective students are one part of Kite and Key's functions -- Lewis actually gave a private tour for Vice President Dan Quayle's son last week -- the College senior emphasized that her organization does much more than lead 17-year-olds in packs around campus. "We really do so much more," Lewis said. "We are really like eight organizations in one." Founded in 1924, Kite and Key is both one of the largest and one of the oldest student groups on campus. Over 600 students participate in Kite and Key activities and projects each year. While most students view Kite and Key as an extension of the admissions office, their activities extend far beyond College Hall and the University's campus. "The unique thing about Kite and Key is that you can go to one organization and do both campus and community service," Lewis said. "I think students are becoming more in tune with community issues, and Kite and Key has responded by providing more opportunities to get involved in the community." One way in which Kite and Key is addressing community service is with a new board position, Community Projects Coordinator, created last year. The Ronald McDonald House program is one of the more traditional community service projects with which Kite and Key is involved. Over 50 Kite and Keyers go to the House on 39th and Chestnut streets each week to play with the children living there. College sophomore Karen Miller, who is involved in several community service projects, said that Ronald McDonald House is one of her favorite activities. "I think every effort really helps," Miller said. One of Kite and Key's newest community endeavors is a cooperative effort with Mantua Against Drugs. MAD is a West Philadelphia residents' association which sponsors vigils against drug users and pushers and holds an after-school activities program to improve educational opportunities for neighborhood youth. As part of the program, Kite and Key members tutor and organize learning activities for over 30 children from grades one through seven for two hours each Monday through Friday. In fact, according to Community Projects Coordinator Kathleen Sullivan, the after-school tutoring program was scheduled to be stopped due to a lack of resources when Kite and Key came to the rescue. Besides MAD, Kite and Key also runs the Step-One Tutoring Project. Program participants tutor students in math and reading at Lea Elementary School and in all subjects at West Philadelphia High School. The program has seen a tremendous increase in interest this year, with over 125 participants, Coordinator Chris McCann said. "I think it's a great program because you can relate your academic learnings to real world situations," McCann said. "You can learn a hell of a lot more by experience than by book." Another new project that Kite and Key organized this year is the Gateway Program. The purpose of the program is to train students to utilize their skills to teach others how to read. Leaders from the Mayor's Commission on Literacy trained 20 to 25 students earlier this month to serve as literacy educators. Additional training sessions have been planned on November 2 and 4 to accommodate those students who missed the first orientation. The program then places trainees in a variety of organizations throughout Philadelphia which deal with the issue of literacy. · One way in which Kite and Key actively works with the Office of Admissions is through the Ambassador Program. Ambassadors staff an information desk in the Admissions Office each day during the week and special hours on weekends. There are currently over 60 ambassadors volunteering their campus knowledge. Jodi Fragin, who acts as a liason between Kite and Key and Admissions, said that any student can be an ambassador. "I try to get a diverse group of students to be ambassadors," Fragin said. "It's not a requirement, but students who are involved in several other organizations tend to be more aware of what is occurring on campus." Volunteers interested in talking to high school students and revisiting their alma maters might choose to get involved in the High School Outreach Program. During these visits to high schools, Kite and Key volunteers answer questions about the University and admissions process. During fall break, over 20 Kite and Key volunteers participated in this program. Other visits will occur during winter vacation and in early May. Another admissions activity is the Hosting Program. Last semester, Kite and Key members hosted over 200 female and 97 male prospective freshmen. The peak hosting period is during Locust Weeks in April when accepted students are deciding whether to attend the University. Last year, Kite and Key members hosted over 120 prospective students during the three weeks, according to College Junior Mike Gross, Female Hosting Coordinator. · Kite and Key volunteers also participate in several one-time projects throughout the year. Special Projects Coordinator Janet Miller said Kite and Key members work at the Penn Relays and for other weekend events throughout the year. During Parents Weekend volunteers man an information center in Bodek Lounge, lead special tours and usher at Performing Arts night. Homecoming is another big time for Kite and Key members as they help out with everything from face painting and selling quaker shakers to planning the traditional Kite and Key Homecoming reception. Kite and Key Vice President Jonathan Bing said that it is never too late in the year to join Kite and Key. "Since we have so many ongoing activities, there are always ways for new volunteers to get involved," the College senior said. "Kite and Key provides opportunities both for students who want to become super-involved and for those who want to do campus or community service just once-in-a-while."Comments powered by Disqus
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