Sumner Academy, FHSU join in neighborhood cleanup for National Youth Service Day

One fruit of a partnership between the Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences and Fort Hays State University will be the National Youth Service Day Saturday (NYSD) on Saturday, April 14.

"Our annual National Youth Service Day is hosted by Sumner Academy's Student Council," said Michael Prier, an English teacher at Sumner and a Student Council sponsor.

"They have planned beautification of the neighborhood, planting flowers around the school, cleaning rooms inside and a school-wide canned food drive for local churches," he said. Prier also said that members of the community and other teachers have volunteered to help.

"We will provide juice and doughnuts for breakfast and everyone will get pizza for lunch," he said. T-shirts will also be provided for the students.

FHSU's partnership with Sumner Academy 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. This year, as in the first, the arrangement included a $5,000 grant from FHSU, which the school may use for a social change project or for other activities that benefit students.

Prier said that many students use the NYSD also as a way to gain community service hours for such organizations as the National Honor Society and to meet requirements for the International Baccalaureate program, which has a requirement for 150 community-service hours.

"We used to fundraise to help pay for NYSD, so we use money from FHSU to pay for everything," he said. "We have also used it to have a second spirit week, the first for Sumner, to bring spirit awareness to students. We decorated halls, had class competitions and various awards for most spirit."

Prier said the 35-member Student Council -- seven members from each grade -- decides how to use the grant to benefit the school as a whole.

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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. As part of the partnership program, FHSU's Kansas Youth Leadership Academy facilitated a training session for a group of student leaders at the school on Nov. 29.

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.

Cathie Klein, KYLA director, and two student facilitators from FHSU will be on hand to participate in the day.

"We're excited to participate with them in their Youth Service Day," said Klein.

Prier said the partnership has been useful for the students. "Sumner would love to continue the partnership," he said. "As more and more students are aware of FSHU, interest has been generated in checking it out as a possible school to attend."

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.

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