Students have ‘MORE’ opportunities to engage with school, communities

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As his MORE project, senior Corbin McElwaine has established a shoe reselling business where he buys shoes cheaply through an app, then resells them to people either in person or online. He plans to use the profits to purchase and donate cleats to the MFL MarMac football program. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Senior Jonah Wille will build on his film and photography business, JW Productions. He started the venture in the inaugural MORE semester, this past spring. After purchasing his own equipment, Wille started sharing content on YouTube and social media, along with growing his personal learning network. He has so far created promo videos for the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce (pictured here), taken senior and couples photos and covered weddings, RAGBRAI, the Clayton County Fair and sports.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

From organizing a career fair to forming a choir at a local church, students in MFL MarMac’s MORE authentic learning program are finding even “more” ways to engage with the school and area communities.

 

The class—which stands for “More Opportunities. Real Experiences.”—is now in its second semester. Eleven students tackled projects last spring, largely based on pitches posed by local businesses and organizations. There are nine students in the program this time, and projects have shifted to more emphasize student passions, according to instructor Melissa Haberichter.

 

Several are school focused. For example, senior Karter Decker is creating a redesign concept for the press box on the home side of the football field, in addition to extending the bleachers to hold more people.

 

“My main concern is that there’s not enough seating for home fans and there are people lined up along the fences trying to watch the football games,” he said. “Once I saw that, there was another opportunity with the press box.” 

 

Decker has developed ideas with MFL MarMac athletic director Eric Peterson and superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier, while taking user needs into account. An app called Tinkercad is helping with the design process. A visual will allow people to see what the space looks like now and what it could potentially be.

 

“One of the challenges for him is what’s out of his control. You’re not going to go out and build the bleachers, but influence the decision making,” said Haberichter.

 

“My control is proposing the idea,” Decker said, “then pushing it forward as much as I can.”

 

Junior Wyatt Powell hopes to create an Upper Iowa Conference traveling trophy, first for boys basketball, then expanding to girls basketball.

 

“Every year you win the conference, you get the trophy presented to your school,” he explained. “Basketball is one of my favorite sports, and I thought we should be playing for more than bragging rights. I hope someone else in the future can bring it along to other sports.”

 

Like Decker, Powell has worked with Peterson on the idea, and is contacting athletic directors from other conference schools. Reception has been positive.

 

“I hope to keep moving forward and get a trophy from Sports World. I’m going to see if we can all split the cost throughout every single school,” he said.

 

Juniors Eric Grady and Hailea Pritchard are teaming up to organize what they’re calling a “career ready fair.”

“At the beginning of the year, and really all throughout high school, my ideas of what I want to do after school have changed tremendously. I feel like we haven’t had the right structure and ability to see what’s out there. We take employability skills, but that doesn’t really give us any hands-on experiences, and that’s really what we’re trying to go for with this,” Grady explained. 

 

The career ready fair will include a virtual reality construction simulator and drone flying along with police, fire and EMS and representatives from local businesses and industries.

 

“I want some demonstrations so people can get a feel of what they’re going to be doing rather than, ‘OK, Google says I’m going to be doing this.’ There’s a lot around here nobody has ever heard of,” Grady continued. “We’re also trying to highlight small businesses and how successful they’ve become from scratch. That’s important for people to see.”

 

The important part, added Pritchard, “Is just letting people know they have more options. Hopefully we can continue this next year, or another group could.”

 

Grady also plans to help fellow student Tyler Slaughter with his project, updating the school courtyard.

 

“I will be trimming and cleaning up the trees, bushes and leaves. Then I plan on updating everything such as the picnic tables, bridge and maybe even the recyclable stream. Once all that is done, we can add some new things that will make the area visually pleasing,” Slaughter said.

 

“It’s so under-utilized,” Haberichter said of the space. “It has so much more potential.”

 

Senior Corbin McElwaine has established a shoe reselling business where he buys shoes—mainly Nikes—cheaply through an app, then resells them to people in person or online.

 

“They’re a limited drop. It’s a luck draw. I buy one and hold on to them for a little bit and the demand goes up, so then I can resell them for more online,” McElwaine said. 

 

He learned about the idea from friends who use it as a passive form of income, and has already resold two pairs for a $100 profit.

 

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in: sneakers and shoes. It’s kind of just luck and having a little knowledge on shoes. If they look cool, they’ll probably sell. The website I use the most is called StockX. It’s like eBay for shoes, and it shows the price the shoe was originally sold for and the price it is now,” McElwaine said. 

 

But unlike others, he doesn’t plan to pocket the profit. Instead, McElwaine will use it to purchase football cleats and donate them to the MFL MarMac program for players who can’t afford nicer pairs.

 

“I’m a football player, and I see a lot of younger players with holey cleats, and that makes me sad because it’s an important part of the game. I grew up that way too, a little less fortunate,” McElwaine said. “I want to provide a little back to the program because it provided so much to me.”

 

Other MORE projects will aid the community, such as senior Cole Allert’s renovation of the sign collage near the entrance to Monona which promotes groups such as the FFA, Monona Jr. Leaders 4-H and American Legion. The existing sign is weathered, and Allert plans to inventory the current groups to see if any should be removed or added.

 

“My dad is a construction worker, so I knew I could go out there and take measurements on it, and if I had to get involved with the rebuilding process, I could help with that too,” Allert said. “We’ll be working with Mr. Milewsky as far as the construction side of it.”

 

Karlie Hagensick is forming a choir for the Monona Methodist Church—the congregation’s first in many years.

 

“Music is a really big part of my life, and I just wanted to share that with other people,” Hagensick said. “The congregation wanted it. They just needed somebody to actually do it.”

 

She’s tackled the project with support from her mother, as well as the church pastor and his wife. Eight members have joined so far, and Hagensick hopes to add more.

 

“I need to contact everybody who’s signed up so we can have a rehearsal. Our first performance, I want to do it during the Christmas service,” she said.

 

For his project, senior Jonah Wille will build on his film and photography business, JW Productions. He started the venture in the inaugural MORE semester, after becoming interested in drones through his plant and soil science class. He and fellow student Will Koether also helped develop a curriculum for MFL MarMac’s new drone class, and Wille is now the teaching assistant for the class.

 

“Will Koether and I started diving deeper and doing a lot of research, and it blew up from there where we could take it, how we could make money,” Wille said. “I learned by experimenting with what the school had. Then we wrote a grant for some new ones and I played around with those, then purchased my own. I was able to find a couple niches I could work in that were becoming popular. I have a pretty artistic and creative mind, so it wasn’t a tough thing for me to learn composition of photos.”

 

After purchasing his own equipment, Wille started sharing content on YouTube and social media, along with growing his personal learning network. Wille has so far created promo videos for the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce, taken senior and couples photos and covered weddings, RAGBRAI, the Clayton County Fair and sports.

 

“Now, I’m continuing on with that and adding a couple more skills and tools, along with taking a deeper look at the business itself, what I can be doing differently, what will help,” Wille stated.

 

He’s unsure yet if JW Productions will become his full-fledged career path.

 

“I know I will be doing something of this sort in the future, whether it’s just a side hobby I do for some extra cash and some fun, or whether I take a gap year before I got to school and figure that out,” he said. “When Will and I started, there were talks of we could do this, we could go so many places with this. I didn’t know how far it was going to go.”

 

Wille is appreciative of the lessons he’s learned through MORE so far, as are the first-time participants.

 

Allert stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles, especially when his first project fell through. 

 

Powell similarly noted the class has helped “move through challenges, with problem solving and the process of getting everyone on board.”

 

Pritchard and Hagensick listed patience among the qualities they’ve learned, while McElwaine said he’s learned how to make smart, long-term decisions.

 

“I’ve learned I have to take things into my own hands a little bit. I can’t rely on everyone else to do it for me. I’m the one who needs to push it forward,” Decker added. “It’s a little more adulting, I guess. I’m going to college next year, so I’m going to need a little bit of that.”

 

“[MORE] is not your normal class. It’s totally different. And that’s what I love about it,” Grady said. “You’re getting graded on how well all your soft skills work together and working together with other people.”

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