The Future’s so Bright!


The Future’s so Bright!

Last Wednesday, the McPherson High School Youth Advisory Council walked the McPherson High School Certified staff through the Creative Tension process. Thinking about the results gives me goose bumps of hopefulness! Before I recount why I feel this way, let me shed some light on the background.

Earlier this year, the MHS YAC group took on a challenge to improve the culture of their school. This began as a response to the tragedies of so many mass killings taking place in our country and in our schools. As a Community Foundation, our focus was to create a space where students had the freedom to talk about this. Essentially, we (as adults) needed to get out of the way!

So when Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz shared with me a model that could assist us, I was excited to see the process unfold! She facilitated the Creative Tension model with the YAC Executive Board, allowing them to envision how they would utilize the model with their peers. It is not surprising that the students took the idea and ran with it!

In September, they hosted their own Creative Tension model process and they called it the Youth Summit. Their theme was “cross-social connections” and it drew 20 students from MHS and Elyria Christian School. During the afternoon, students were encouraged to dream of what their school would look like if everyone felt safe. They were asked to consider what students in the building would see, feel, hear, notice. During this time, adults were tasked with taking notes and listening – they were not allowed to talk! While the adults admitted to the challenge of this, they also shared their awe at how perceptive the students were, in regards to their peers.

The most common themes that came out of the Summit were Inclusion, Engagement, and Support. Based on these, the YAC has some ideas for contributing to the betterment of the MHS culture: They would like to take the entire MHS student body through the creative tension model, they would like to implement a mentoring program (Seniors with Sophomores, Juniors with Freshman) and they would like to address increasing support that is offered by the school.

Additionally, they wanted to facilitate this process with MHS staff – which they completed last Wednesday. And the roles were reversed…Students had to listen and take notes while the adults spoke. Interestingly, a few of the themes from the adults were the same as the major themes the students had come up with! It is not surprising to me that all people who work and study in the same building would have similar thoughts on how to make the atmosphere better and more inviting for everyone!

As a sponsor watching this unfold was magical! I couldn’t have planned the results any better. How can I be anything but a proud “momma bear” watching the increased leadership and maturity that has taken place? The work has just begun with the foundation currently being laid for the legacy that the 2018-2019 MHS YAC will impart to their school. Already, collaboration has begun between students and staff that will allow this work to have a deep and meaningful impact on McPherson High School.

Looking ahead, I can see a future so bright, I gotta wear shades!