Tiger Interact Club beautifies campus

The Tiger Interact Club beautified McKinley High School on January 13 and hopes to inspire others to do the same.


By An Vo

Tiger Interact Club picked up litter around campus and preserved a clean school.

An Vo

The Tiger Interact Club cleaned up litter on McKinley High School’s campus after school on Jan. 13.

“After picking up the trash; the campus was cleaner. It’s always the little things that we want the students to see,” senior Leemo Taula said.

When Ron Okamura became the principal of McKinley High School, the Tiger Interact Club had lost its place but it was restored. Okamura said he’s proud that the school has a club that provides community service.

“When I first got here, it kinda died out,” he said. “About five/six years ago they brought it back which I’m very happy because we all need to have some community service; things we need to do and it starts here, it starts with our homes. Then it goes up to the greater community. If we take care of our home, we take care of our school, we take care of our community, we take care of our planet.”

Okamura said the Interact Club has been one of the long-standing organizations in clubs in most of the schools across the nation.

“They are associated with the Rotary Club,” he said. “They are mostly business people in the community who get together and they represent various parts of each city and they go do community service, campus beautification of parks, giving money to other organizations such as the Interact Clubs to come and do work as far as cleaning the campus so they can buy garbage bags, gloves and whatever they need. It’s been around for many decades.”

The Tiger Interact Club doesn’t only make a positive impact on the school. Jared Winquist is a science teacher at McKinley as well as an adviser of the Tiger Interact Club. He said they also partner up with other services outside of McKinley High School.

“Tiger Interact does a lot outside of the school itself with partnering organizations and we volunteered with our own things called active serve,” he said. “We helped clean up at elementary schools, helped clean up the Ala Wai. Working with an organization called Navai Ponu to clean up the Ala Wai over by Iolani school. [We] helped the Honolulu marathon and we helped around a station there with Rotary which is our parent organization.”

Taula said the Tiger Interact Club helps other communities outside of McKinley.

“We (also) go out into our community, like the Ala Moana cleanup that we recently had,” Taula said.

Okamura said the Tiger Interact Club doesn’t only provide community service to McKinley High School, the club also works on side projects to clean the community.

“They do a lot of campus beautification kinds of things also going out into the community,” he said. “One time they did a park clean up in down Kakaako Waterfront Park and its just giving back to the community so that it doesn’t be all dirty and trashy and unkept.”

Winquist said he organized the event by planning a schedule that was suitable for the members and officers of the Tiger Interact Club. After they ran the first cleanup, it became a monthly activity to provide community service.

“We asked our members and the officers if they’d like to do a campus cleanup,” he said. “They said yes so we put together dates and times and ran the first one it had a pretty good turn out so we decided to continue to sort of making it a once a month thing, to seek it out and clean up and just sort of taking care of our own campus. So it came primarily from the students looking for a way to have a positive impact here on campus.”

The Tiger Interact Club is related to other clubs in McKinley High School in terms of providing community service. Okamura said the LEO Club and the Key Club also touches the factor of helping out in the community.

“There are a lot of service clubs [in school],” he said. “The next one would be the LEO Club and they are kind of a service orientated club. They are also associated with the Lions Club of the community. Then you have the Key Club and basically [they] are associated with the Kiwanis organization in the community and they all do service projects and are here to provide things to enhance the school like campus beautification, they paint places, going out into the community and helping clean up certain parks.”

Taula said the cafeteria needed the most attention because it’s where students eat.

“Having a clean environment to eat at is very important for health,” Taula said.

Winquist said the areas with the most trash tends to be near the cafeteria and P-building.

“That’s usually a lot of student garbage [near the cafeteria], sort of waste credit,” he said. “The other remaining area is over by P-building and that’s primarily from other people coming from off-campus and leaving items there not from students, typically.”

Taula said a clean campus is also a matter of pride.

“If outsiders come [to] visit the school, they don’t want to see a filthy school full of trash and having a clean school also tells people that we have pride in our school,” she said.

Winquist said he noticed that the school was cleaner after picking up trash. He also provides a theory that relates to the environmental issue.

“There’s less trash after the cleanup. I think that having a clean campus is important and that’s why we’re doing the cleanup,” he said. “It’s kind of like the broken window theory which says that if you walk through a neighborhood and you see a broken out window, you think that it’s okay to break more windows so you’re more likely [to] have more windows broken after that first one.”

What people see when they walk onto the campus affects their beliefs about the school. Winquist said the theory has a meaning to campus cleanliness.

“The idea there is if it’s (the campus) clean and people see that it’s clean, they will want to or more likely to keep it clean,” he said. “Whereas if they see a bunch of trash laying around everywhere, they’ll think that ‘oh, I’ll just throw my trash, everybody else does,’ and it just gets dirtier and dirtier.”

Okamura said maintaining the cleanliness of the campus affects the first impression of visitors.

“It kinda sets [the] tone,” he said. “If the campus is dirty and unkept, people get a bad feeling about that like ‘nobody cares,’ whereas if they come onto the campus and the campus is clean, it’s well kept, its well-manicured, the buildings are nice; people say ‘wow this campus is really cared for’ so they start to care about they do. It changes their attitudes and their first impressions about the school.”

Taula said her science teacher motivated her to take part in community service by learning about environmental issues.

“Just seeing the trash is very heartbreaking to see a school that has trash,” she said. “(In science class), we learn a lot about environmental issues, especially here in Hawaii like the whales, [and] even pollution patch, the biggest patch in the whole world in the Pacific, and also motivating me to do this kind of thing.”

Taula said she participated in the campus cleanup because being active in the community benefits the environment. She also said she also wants to inspire others to do the same.

“Being part of this cleanup really helps that,” she said.

Taula said people should be involved in community service for the benefit of the environment and the people around them and not just for themselves.

“Get involved with the community, not for college applications or for scholarships and stuff like that, but just to be active,” she said. “Even though it was just a cleanup, and it’s not an everyday thing, [but you should] clean up every day. It shouldn’t be an event, it should be an everyday routine.”

Being empathetic is also an important trait for a good person. Taula said she understands the amount of work that the custodians around the school go through to maintain the cleanliness of the campus and its buildings and appreciates them whenever they acknowledge people who contribute to a clean campus.

“[When] we help them (custodians) out, I feel accomplished when they say ‘thank you’ and all that,” she said. “It’s not their job, it’s supposed to be common sense for students to pick up after themselves because the custodians are not here to clean up after themselves. Saying these thank yous and smiley faces from other people makes me feel more accomplished.”

Taula said she feels accomplished when she’s involved in community service.

“Even though it’s not a big thing, but the smallest amount of effort can make a big difference,” she said. “Especially afterward [when] you’re greeted with a thank you.”

Winquist said he believes that the Tiger Interact Club members enjoy being a role model to others by providing community service.

“I think that they (students) enjoy doing it because it’s a positive experience,” he said. “It’s hard work sometimes but people seem to enjoy it and they enjoy having a positive impact on the community and people around them.”

Okamura said giving back more than what we take from our community will transform it into a clean place where people feel safe, and it starts by helping out in smaller projects relating to community service.

“Part of school is also being able to do things to take care of our community,” he said. “We kinda give back instead of taking-taking-taking. It’s about giving back to our community, making our community nicer, making our community safer. Just providing things that the state cannot do as far as helping out with these smaller projects. It teaches you about community service and giving back to our communities.”

Being involved is a vital aspect to taking care of our community. Okamura said being in clubs that perform community service are the building blocks to making a positive impact on the world.

“I think every student should be involved in a club like the Interact Club, [the] Leo Club, and the Key Club because it’s important that we take care of where we [live] at,” he said. “Our home, our school, our community, our state, our nation, [and] our global community. I think we need to understand that everybody has a part in taking care of this planet and it starts with doing small acts like campus beautification but it can conclude to a bigger venue that can lead to something you can do globally.”

Looking to make a positive impact is an easy thing to do. Winquist said people can find opportunities to help out by asking other people and volunteering.

“There’s plenty of ways to serve and to help out,” he said. “Look for opportunities and reach out and ask if people need help and look for organizations that need volunteers. There’s a lot to be done.”

Winquist said the Tiger Interact Club welcomes new members that want to make a change for the community. He also said they are looking for ways to help out in the community.

“We are always looking for new members,” he said. “We have meetings every other Thursday in room MS-1. So people are always welcome. We are always looking for more projects and some more ways to do community service.”

Okamura said his goal is to see alumni make a positive impact on the world because of their experiences in the clubs in McKinley High School that provide community service.

“It would be cool if a McKinley graduate, an alumni, does something that affects the world as far as making it a better place to live and they started doing something like the Interact Club [because] that’s where they learn to do community service and give back,” he said. “That would be my dream [if] somebody, [or] a couple of our students here actually go out and do something that really is impacting the world positively and they come back here and said ‘its because I was part of Interact, that’s where I learned how to give back to the community.’”

Changes in structure and information were made on 2/7/2020.