Fort Hays State University and the Sumner Academy of Arts and Science will celebrate a new partnership between the two educational institutions on Nov. 18, 2005 with a ceremony on the Sumner Academy campus.
FHSU President Edward H. Hammond will be on campus to deliver a $5,000 grant.
The partnership arose from a desire on the part of FHSU officials to help students make their high school experience, and in particular 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, but another main feature is a $5,000 grant that was awarded to Sumner Academy by FHSU. The grant may be used for the social change project or for other activities that benefit students.
As part of a new pilot partnership program between Fort Hays State University and Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy (KYLA) traveled to Sumner Academy on Sept. 21 to facilitate a training session for a group of student leaders.
KYLA is a comprehensive program designed to promote youth leadership development throughout the state of Kansas. The Leadership 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.
Sumner's Student Council and National Honor Society members were interested in receiving training on leadership, teambuilding, and social change in order to develop a plan to enhance school spirit.
In the morning, students participated in a number of fun icebreakers and group exercises to get to know one another better, learn how to think critically, solve problems creatively, and build knowledge and skills in the areas of teambuilding, leadership and leader-follower relationships.
In the afternoon, KYLA facilitators guided students through the steps necessary to build a social change plan to improve school spirit at Sumner Academy. The four main points of the resulting plan:
1. A new message board that will keep students, faculty, and community better informed about student events to improve attendance.
2. A spirit day one game day per month.
3. A diversity appreciation club where students can be introduced to various cultures to try to unify the diverse groups in their schools.
4. A mural in the commons area.
Students are not only responsible for developing the plan, they are responsible for seeing the project through to completion in May, which will also conclude a year-long celebration of the school's 100th anniversary.
Kendra Coleman, Sumner Academy junior, enjoyed the experience. "It was really creative to have the activities such as the Shower Curtain and Market activity," she said. "I really learned a lot about how leadership is very important as well as followers, too."
Pang Her, Sumner Academy junior, said the day spent away from class was beneficial for several reasons. "It helped me meet others who had the same passion of changing the school. Also it helped me [learn how to] manage a proposal. I enjoyed doing the training, and it did help me realize some of the obstacles in making changes at school."
Because this is a pilot project, creativity and flexibility are necessary as this year-long program develops. For example, if Sumner Academy staff or students are interested in a particular educational topic or subject area, FHSU administrators will help connect its faculty with students and teachers at Sumner Academy through class lectures, art or music demonstrations, teacher workshops or in other ways as desired by the school. Sumner Academy students will also have first preference to attend an all-expense paid weekend trip to the FHSU campus to learn more about college preparation.
"FHSU believes service-learning and the development of civic engagement are key components of our mission to educate students," said FHSU's President Hammond. "We are excited that this partnership gives us the chance to share this part of our mission with staff and students at Sumner Academy, and we look forward to an exciting year of working together for the benefit of students."
Michael Prier, English teacher and student council advisor, said, "The students at Sumner Academy will be impacted positively as the Student Council and National Honor Society are role models and leaders in the school. They will inspire the students with their enthusiasm and school spirit to bring about a change in the way students view and appreciate school spirit at Sumner Academy."
Sumner Academy is a nationally ranked, five-year college preparatory magnet school in Kansas City, KS, USD 500. 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.