Fort Hays State University and Olathe North High School will celebrate a new partnership between the two educational institutions on Nov. 17, 2005, with a ceremony on the ONHS campus.
FHSU President Edward H. Hammond will present 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 Olathe North 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 Olathe North High School, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy (KYLA) traveled to ONHS on Nov. 2 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.
Members of Olathe North's newly created Student Government were interested in receiving training on leadership and teambuilding. A future training session will address social change.
Students are not only responsible for developing the social change plan, they are also responsible for seeing the project through to completion in May.
"I think this seminar will really help our SGA. Now when we work in a group, we will know how to express our ideas better," said Olathe North student Lauren Ponmiller.
"The shower curtain activity was really cool even though it was frustrating. It really showed the leader and follower roles. I had a lot of fun and wouldn't mind doing more leadership trainings," said Katie Mehan, another student at Olathe North.
Because this is a pilot project, creativity and flexibility are necessary as this year-long program develops. For example, if Olathe North High School 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 Olathe North through class lectures, art or music demonstrations, teacher workshops or in other ways as desired by the school. Olathe North 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 Olathe North High School, and we look forward to an exciting year of working together for the benefit of students."
"This partnership with Fort Hays State University offers tremendous capacity for Olathe North students to begin to see themselves as leaders," said Olathe North principal M. Theresa Davidson.
"We feel fortunate that the university has chosen to bring the expertise of their Leadership Studies staff and students half-way across the state to train and provide leadership experiences for students who might not otherwise have seen themselves in that role. We look forward to building a relationship that will open a whole new menu of opportunities and responsibilities for our students," she said.
"The Olathe North, Fort Hays State partnership will give many students the opportunity to work with Fort Hays faculty that are renowned experts in their fields -- an experience many high school students would not be afforded without this partnership," said ONHS science teacher Joshua Morris.
"Through the generous donation from FHSU, the Olathe North Student Government Association will have the chance to perform a community service project that can dramatically affect the lives of many people in our community that are more than deserving," said Morris.
Olathe North High School serves students in grades 10 through 12 in Olathe USD 233. FHSU, located four hours west of Kansas City in Hays, 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 Olathe North, FHSU is partnering with Sumner Academy of Arts and Science on a similar venture.