Photos by Carson Holtgraves
The Student Activities Advisory Council was established this year by the new athletic director Debbie Katzfey. SAAC is a volunteer organization tied to athletics at both the collegiate level and high school level. At East, each sport has two representatives, mainly juniors and seniors, who coordinate community service projects for the team to participate in.
Katzfey wanted to implement SAAC at East in order to provide an organization that ties both sports and community service together. She asked each coach to pick two leaders from their teams to coordinate at least one volunteer project during the school year.There are 44 current representatives in the program from all spring, fall and winter sports. The representatives are supposed to plan the projects and then report to their teams what service activity the team will be participating in. Giving back to the Kansas City community will not only benefit the team’s reputation, but also East’s, according to Katzfey.
Katzfey has seen this program thrive at her previous schools: Lee’s Summit West and Lee’s Summit North and at different colleges including the University of Kansas. She first saw SAAC’s success at the University of Kansas where she graduated from. Some universities pair up with a certain organization, while East organizes projects with many, such as the Kansas City Community Kitchen or Brighten Gardens Nursing Home
Katzfey saw at both Lee’s Summit North and West how the athletic teams impacted the Lee’s Summit community by representing the sports in a positive light. According to Katzfey, SAAC helps involve the school’s sports throughout the community in different ways.
“One of the things I felt that East needed was as much positive PR out there as possible,” Katzfey said. “I feel like the teams do not get recognized in our community as giving back, so this gives them a chance to do that.”
The volleyball team, gymnastics team and tennis teams have already completed their community service project. Gymnastics volunteered to serve food to the homeless at the Kansas City Community Kitchen on Sept. 12, volleyball went to Claridge Court Nursing Home to play wheelchair volleyball on Sept. 19 and tennis went to the JDRF Diabetes Walk on Sept. 24.
The gymnastics team chose to serve the homeless because a member of the team had previously gone to the kitchen before and recommended it. Every member took a vote on what project they wanted to volunteer in, and the majority of the girls chose to serve at the kitchen. Head coach Jennifer Terflinger went along with them and plan to go back whenever the girls want to. According to senior Kalin Lamus, it was an experience that was fun to see how many people actually come through the kitchen each day and how it impacts the people in the Kansas City community.
“By volunteering it raises awareness for the community as a whole,” Terflinger said. “We have great girls, a great school, and shows the bigger picture that these girls are changing people’s lives in different ways and giving up themselves which is one of the highest things you can give.”
By collaborating with each other and their coach, the teams volunteer at a place where they see fit for something that would interest them while also giving back. According to senior Eli McDonald, Coach Delaney has always wanted the football team to go out and participate in community service projects. Football leaders, McDonald and senior Peter Haynes are currently planning the project for football to volunteer at Brighton Gardens on Oct. 15. 20 players at a time will visit and spend time with the residents.
“People at Brighton Gardens always come out and support the Lancer Day Parade and we thought that the residents would enjoy our company,” McDonald said. “I know a few of them like East and support our football team so it should be a good time.”
Each athletic team is encouraged by their coaches and Katzfey to go out and volunteer more than once, but the SAAC only requires one visit. The varsity volleyball team, who volunteered at Claridge Court to play wheelchair volleyball, are already planning on going back in the future.
Currently the program only consists of athletic teams, but Katzfey would love to open the program up to all clubs and have representation of each one. Many students are involved in multiple groups and clubs at East so currently there is a wide variety of students who are involved, said Katzfey. Since Katzfey is new this year, her only contacts are the coaches. Broadening the program is something that she hopes that she can accomplish in the future.
“Second semester I want to make sure if we don’t have someone from a group that we get that club involved,” Katzfey said. “The more kids that are involved to give back to the community the better.”