The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Operation Smile Runs the First Teacher Talent Show

How an Upstart Club Spreads Smiles Around the World
Johnson & Johnson
Addalyn Lane holds up a photo of herself as a baby before her surgery by Operation Smile

Out of every 1,600 babies born in the US alone, at least 1 will have a cleft palate and cleft lip. This rare condition arises from genetic disorders and causes a rip in the lip and mouth of a child, causing difficulty speaking and swallowing. The condition can be fixed through surgery in most cases, but the operation is expensive and many people are unable to pay for it. Enter: Operation Smile. 

Logo for the Operation Smile nonprofit organization (Operation Smile)

As part of a larger global organization, the KHS Operation Smile club works to fundraise through events, collecting donations to help underprivileged children around the world pay for surgery to fix cleft lip and cleft palate, spreading smiles wherever they go. 

Founded by Ariana Conroy and Julia Coyne with the help of co-advisors Peter Zablocki and Heather Pollak (both history teachers at KHS), the Operation Smile club quickly became one of a small handful of completely student-run organizations, serving as a testament to the potential of just one student to make a difference and create something that will outlast them and maybe even change the world. 

The idea began as a vague desire to put some good into the world, lacking direction but making up for it with enthusiasm and a passion for helping the community. Ariana Conroy described her motivation for starting the club“I liked the idea of giving to people, like that people who don’t have something can get help from others… I haven’t had that chance to make a big difference, and I thought it was cool that I could take leadership for something”. Upon discovering the Operation Smile effort, Arianna and Julia quickly embraced the idea and researched the process of creating a club with the help of their advisors. 

The process of starting a club is deceptively simple but requires a lot of work and preparation, plus dedication to seeing the idea through and support from your peers. With help from a faculty advisor and your guidance counselor, any student can start a club, for any purpose, so long as the club is approved through the necessary channels. In the case of Operation Smile, this involved creating a club proposal for Principal Gary Suda and eventually setting up a pilot run of the club with some startup members and a basic idea of what they wanted to accomplish. 

Currently, Operation Smile is still in that early pilot stage as a young club, but already it has begun to make a splash and foster positive developments both in our school community and abroad. Their most notable accomplishment was organizing the first-ever Teacher Talent Show, coming up on February 23. 

The process of organizing this major event and putting together all the pieces was no easy feat, and it required multiple efforts to schedule it and put acts together. In fact, the talent show has been in the works for almost a year now! 

Sadly one of the biggest struggles with student-led clubs is finding enough interest in the school body to make it all work. Co-presidents Conroy and Coyne have been doing a phenomenal job so far because they have good leadership skills and are responsible people. Co-Advisor Zablocki even said that when they were starting the club, “they came up to me with the idea and all the statistics that we need on starting the club and what was needed, all I had to do was the logistic aspect of going down and actually filing for it”. Evidently, the founders are very prepared and know what they are doing, but even so, they’ve still had to chase people down to get acts for the show. 

One of the best things about our school it’s small enough that any student can be noticed and make a difference. Anyone can start a club, get up in front of their peers to compete in spirit week or become part of something larger than themselves through the many clubs we already have, but the majority of students don’t take advantage of these opportunities. The best thing we can do for these student-run organizations is to continue to support our peers by at least attending the events they run, even if we don’t want to help in the tedious process of putting them together. 

With all that said, I encourage you to come to check out the Teacher Talent Show on February 23. Co-advisor Pollak made a very good point that “we get to see the student talent a lot… but very rarely do you get to see the teachers outside of their teaching in the classroom”. But most importantly, it’s all for a very good cause, and the proceeds from this event will go towards Operation Smile as a whole, putting smiles into kids’ lives and making the world just a little bit brighter. Not a bad way to spend your Thursday night. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Operation Smile initiative or would like to support the cause, feel free to check out the organization’s website!

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