When I founded Klotter Chapter back in 2015, I had high hopes for what we could accomplish. Back then, I was an aspiring history major with no real space in which I could share my passion for the past. The previous history club had died out years before I arrived at BCHS. And so, from my sophomore year onward I worked with different principals and teachers to see about rebuilding that community and increasing access to humanities resources, opportunities, and scholarships for both teachers and students by setting up a new club and enrolling BCHS as a Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Affiliate School.
Unfortunately, the club that became Rho Kappa didn't really get off the ground until my senior year. But for a short window, things looked up as membership flourished. We built this website, launched an online Digital Humanities Center, recognized social studies teachers for their service to our school, launched a blog, set up social media, compiled extensive lists of scholarship and program opportunities, and started building a gargantuan project to index every available two and four year humanities and social sciences degree at Kentucky colleges and universities. Then we graduated. With the first class of Rho Kappa Scholars gone, the chapter was left with only a handful of members.
James Klotter Chapter has barely limped along ever since with too small a membership to achieve the goals we set three years ago and with the website and social media maintained by myself, a BCHS alum now studying history and classics as a junior in university. It simply wasn't enough to keep Rho Kappa alive; by the end of the past school year, James Klotter Chapter was put on probation by the national Rho Kappa organization and deemed inactive.
Now, it's time for new initiative and leadership. Although I was and am still happy to help in whatever way I can, there's only so much I can do from 360+ miles away. This isn't my club anymore; it's yours. James Klotter Chapter belongs to the current generation of Boyd County High students. I am sad to see any high school in America without a history club, most of all the one where my friends and I spent our four years. In a time of uncertainty for humanities education and a lack of funding for history, a robust history club at BCHS is the best vehicle for bringing together new generations of students with the same passion for the past that I had years ago and for creatively revitalizing history education in Eastern Kentucky public schools.
Whether that club takes the form of a revived Rho Kappa, a chapter of the Kentucky Junior Historical Society, or simply an unaffiliated BCHS History Club matters little. What matters is that students take the initiative to revive and cement a club for the young historians of Boyd County. If and when this happens, I'll be here to help out however I can. But it starts with you, right here, right now. I encourage all of you to reach out to Rho Kappa's sponsor, Mr. Scott, to start the conversation.
So for now, I bid a fond farewell to James Klotter Chapter. I can't wait to see what the next generation of passionate students can do.
Til then, all the best,
Austin R. Justice