Bay High’s Laura Colagiovanni is new Ohio leader for Key Club
Bay High junior Laura Colagiovanni is barely into her term as International Key Club's Ohio Division Governor, yet the 16-year-old is already leading the state's Executive Board, overseeing 25 Lieutenant Governors, and mulling over a possible five-year strategic plan for the success of future Ohio Key Club boards.
“It’s truly a pre-professional experience,” said Laura. “I campaigned hard and was elected to the position. I’m running meetings using parliamentary procedure. I’m actually doing things that I’m studying about in AP Government.”
Laura didn’t foresee the leadership opportunities available to her when she signed up for Bay High’s Key Club as a busy freshman cheerleader. She just wanted to help people. She was recruited to become the club’s freshman representative. Once she had the experience of attending leadership meetings and working on projects with upperclassmen, Laura said she had found her niche.
“Key Club stuck with me,” she said. And she stuck with the club, becoming Bulletin Editor and then attending the Ohio District Conference, where she enjoyed workshops, learned new service and fundraising ideas, and mingled with 200 members from throughout the state. “It opened up everything,” she said. “It changed my perception of Key Club in a big way."
She decided to run for Key Club's Ohio Division Governor after she went to an International Key Club conference in Anaheim, California.
The campaign and election process was intense. She designed a campaign flyer with her biography and platform, and announced her campaign the first day of the Ohio District Conference last year in Beachwood. “I was a little naive,” she said, explaining that she has learned a great deal more about the improvements she’d like to lead for the Ohio District now that she’s experienced some of the planning and budgeting challenges herself. She answered random questions pulled from a fishbowl in front of the 200-member audience. She and the two other candidates attended a nominating conference with 25 Lieutenant Governor-elects, gave a two-minute speech and fielded questions. The resulting vote whittled the three down to two finalist candidates, one of which was Laura.
A caucusing process ensued, and the two candidates, along with other Executive Board position candidates, rotated among four rooms of members, giving two-minutes speeches and again responding to questions. Two representatives from each high school club voted for the final winner following more candidate speeches and question-and-answer periods.
Results were revealed in a morning closing session. Laura was called up to accept the top position. She was presented the governor banner to display at Bay High School, and she gave an acceptance speech. She was also surprised to find that her parents, Joy and Chris Colagiovanni, had been called and were in attendance.
“Laura has been a natural Key Club leader," said Bay High Key Club advisor and teacher, Anita Bauknecht. “Her enthusiasm towards serving others is contagious, her organizational skills produce flawless events, and her leadership challenges her peers to go beyond their perceived abilities. I am excited to see what new boundaries Laura will push in the coming years.”
Laura would like to major in political science in college. She says her experience has shown her she can truly make a difference as she works alongside 30 other students in the state leadership, and she would like to one day be involved in making better, positive legislation in government.
“I often hear seniors in high school say they wish they had known about the many leadership opportunities in Key Club,” she said. “I’d encourage students to get involved in Key Club as early in high school as they can. We are about instilling leadership skills, but above all, a love of service.”
Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District