Rotary International is the world's first service club organization. It was founded in 1905, in Chicago, Illinois. There are more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries. Members of Rotary Clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.
The River Falls Rotary Club started in 1999. Since then, we have participated in numerous international and local service projects, ranging from PolioPlus, Rotary's world-wide effort to eradicate polio, to supporting a water project in Haiti and an orphanage in India, to the renovation of Veteran's Park in downtown River Falls.
But - as you might expect in a college town - our club has a particular passion for education. (In fact, both your principal and superindendant are Rotarians.) A number of us spend some time each week reading with Westside Elementary students, and we have started a book fund there to help put books in the hands of students who might not otherwise have one. At the University, our club is sponsoring Dr. Matt Vonk, a physics professor, to go teach for a year in Central America.
And the River Falls Rotary Club has been particularly active here in the high school. We have sponsored an international high school student through Rotary Youth Exchange almost every year. Our student this year is Guillermo Delgado.
We sponsor the STRIVE program.
We send students each year to Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) seminars, which recognizes and encourages leadership abilities in high school students.
We also send a student to Camp Enterprise, a three-day high-intensity experience aimed at developing entrepeneurial and business skills.
Every year, we sponsor Tim Scott to speak to students about the Holocaust.
We send students to the Model U.N. in St. Paul, and to the World Affairs Seminar at Carroll University.
We give scholarships to graduating students here and at the Renaissance Academy. And finally, we are particularly pleased to sponsor this banquet.
We are here tonight to honor educational success - both the students, and the teachers who have inspired you. Education can change the world, but it can do so only when it is shared. To quote the poet William Butler Yeats, "Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire." Tonight, we celebrate the spark within you. May you each share that spark with those you meet along the way. Congratulations to all of you.