National Youth Service Day, April 22, will be a celebration of something additional for the Sumner Academy, a nationally ranked, five-year college preparatory magnet school in Kansas City USD 500.
Students working on the 10 or so projects around the school will also be participating in the culminating experience of a partnership between the school and Fort Hays State University.
The partnership primarily focuses on helping students develop and implement a social change project, but another main feature is a $5,000 grant that was awarded to the Sumner Academy by FHSU. The grant could be used for the social change project or for other activities that benefit students.
The partnership arose from a desire on the part of FHSU officials to help students make their high school experience, and in particular their senior year, more meaningful. Among the opportunities often mentioned to add meaning to the high school experience is the addition of service-learning initiatives.
At Sumner, the day will begin at 9:30 a.m. -- with doughnuts, fruit juice and NYSD T-shirts -- in the Sumner cafeteria.
Michael Prier, Student Council advisor at Sumner Academy, said projects include:
--One group, Project Weed and Seed, will work, through Lowe's, on Big Eleven Lake. Operation Brightside and a few other local community groups, such as the Boys and Girls Club, will be helping as well.
--In a separate landscaping project, other groups will plant flowers and small shrubs around the entrance of the school.
--About 15 groups will pick up trash in a three-block radius of the school, including local church property and the campus area.
--Another group will take a bus to Presbyterian Manor to work with the elderly.
--A canned food drive will end when one group delivers the food to a local church's food kitchen and sorts it for them.
--Other groups will clean the school auditorium and the blackboards of any rooms that are open, while others roam the neighborhood to find any residents who need help picking up trash, leaves or brush.
Four members of the FHSU staff will also be on hand to help with the day's projects: Lisa Karlin, assistant to FHSU President Edward H. Hammond; Kent Steward, director of University Relations; and Kelley Kuhlman, director, and Samantha Butler, associate director, of the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy. Two FHSU students will also participate.
Prier said the grant from FHSU was used to purchase supplies for the work day --plants, tools, cleaning supplies, gloves, trash bags, the morning refreshments and lunch for the volunteers.
"It also pays for the shirts that everyone will be wearing -- for safety reasons -- and to display that they are a part of National Youth Service Day," said Prier.
The remainder of the money will go to a mural that will be painted in the cafeteria, which will probably be done next year, said Prier, and school spirit awareness activities such as the ones this year -- Fan of the Game, Powder Puff Game and others.
"We see this as an ongoing activity to help increase spirit in the school," he said.
FHSU, located four hours west of Kansas City in Hays, KS, serves nearly 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students through 60-plus degree programs on campus and another 5,000 through its 13 online degree programs.
In addition to the pilot project with Sumner Academy, FHSU is partnering with Olathe North High School on a similar venture.