Two eastern Kansas high schools and Fort Hays State University are entering the second year of a partnership that includes a $5,000 grant for each school.
The partnership with Olathe North High School and the Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Kansas City, Kan., arose in 2005 from a desire on the part of FHSU officials to help students make their high school experience, particularly the senior year, more meaningful. Among the opportunities often mentioned to add meaning to the high school experience is the addition of service-learning initiatives. The partnership primarily focuses on helping students develop and implement a social change project.
Each school may use its grant for the social change project or for other activities that benefit students. As part of the partnership program, FHSU's Kansas Youth Leadership Academy (KYLA) will travel to Sumner Academy on Wednesday, Nov. 29, to facilitate one of two training sessions for a group of student leaders. The second has not yet been scheduled. Two sessions will also be scheduled at Olathe North.
KYLA is a comprehensive program designed to promote youth leadership development throughout the state of Kansas. The academy’s primary emphasis is to provide young people with strong character, moral values, a civic attitude and an educational experience that fosters leadership development among all participants.
Laura Pollmiller, president of Olathe's student government, attended a leadership camp in June. "It was just so awesome," she said. "There were about 15 kids there from Olathe, not just from our school, and it was great to be able to get to know each other and go through the training together. It was a lot of fun."
She also participated in Olathe North's service project, Relay for Life.
"We were able, because of the grant from FHSU, to do our first Relay for Life," said Pollmiller. "We raised over $13,000 for cancer research."
Josh Morris, a science teacher and sponsor of the project at Olathe North, said the school will conduct another Relay for Life, probably sometime in March, as its service project this year.
"The kids will form teams and they will be responsible for raising the donations," he said. "Any student club, group or activity can have a team."
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Sumner's service project last year was a large school and neighborhood cleanup project carried out in conjunction with National Youth Service Day. A similar project is in the works for this year.
Olathe North High School serves students in grades 10 through 12 in Olathe USD 233. Sumner Academy of Arts and Science is a nationally ranked, five-year college preparatory magnet school in Kansas City, Kan., USD 500.
FHSU, located four hours west of Kansas City in Hays, serves nearly 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students on campus and another 5,000 through its online degree programs.