FOWLER — Five students from Fowler High School presented at the first annual Kansas State Department of Education Civic Engagement Conference on Feb. 19 in Topeka.

The goal of this conference was to provide educators and students with resources, ideas, and experiences that will improve the civic engagement culture of their schools.

FHS student presenters were Avery Bollinger, Savannah Bollinger, Maria Castillo, Lia Granados and Alexa Snook.

This group of students worked during project week in December to develop a proposal for the conference. Their presentation, titled "Engaging your Community through Project Based Learning," focused on civic engagement principle #3, community service. Their proposal was selected and the students were asked to lead two sessions, 50 minutes each.

"Though several sessions included student presenters assisting adults, Fowler High School’s presentation was unique in that it was completely created and presented by the students with only support from administration in answering questions," said Principal Corri McDowell. "I was very impressed with the level of professionalism our students exhibited."

This success is especially meaningful to McDowell as a year and half ago she discovered that her students were not prepared to sustain work on long-term projects and lacked public speaking skills. The project based learning initiative the school began in October of 2016 is now yielding visible results.

"Our students are finding meaning and value in projects in which they engage the community and see their ideas put into action," says Superintendent Jeff Bollinger. "We teach our students to be doers, not talkers."

Over the course of the last two school years, the school board has approved an LED light project based on student recommendation and entertained a student’s ideas on creating housing options for teachers. Students have also witnessed their ideas come to life by planning field trips and developing the highly successful community Christmas Festival. In March, students will be tackling the recreation needs of Fowler citizens and beautification of the community.

In addition to presenting at the conference, FHS students also met and engaged in a round table discussion with Mary Beth Tinker of the landmark 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker vs. Des Moines ISD.

Fowler school district has embraced the new direction from the State School Board and has redesigned their district to implement real life learning for their students.

Anyone wishing to tour the school district and see the new ideas being put into place please contact the school office to set up a time.