Local students impress in Des Moines


I’m a big sports fan.

It’s a thing. I like to see kids I watched grow up do great things on the court…on the field…on the mat…in the classroom. Not just my own kids, but other kids as well.

I have a junior at Fort Madison High School so I watched kids like Heath Hoenig and Kaleb Cressell and Amber Dilsaver grow up. I watched them in school Christmas concerts, took Girl Scouts on a fishing trip. Watching these kids grow up fills you with a sense of pride. Seeing them reach for their goals and compete with other kids their age tells us our community is doing something right.

Last weekend in Des Moines we had a couple more kids make a lot of us very proud.

McKenna Fehseke, Conrad Hellman, Sabrina Fullhart and Chris Brown were part of an M*Power U Youth Leadership Team that presented scenarios to state legislators on a variety of different topics.

Fehseke was part of the girl scout troop that went fishing. But this was a more grown up Fehseke. Talking to our state leaders about why our schools need more access to mental health therapists, along with Fullhart, having the full attention of the four legislators and room full of Southeast Iowa delegates to a conference. It was very impressive.

Hellman talked about the benefits of looking at different scheduling models at the high school level. They talked about how different scheduling can result in better academic performance, more focused attention and reinvigoration of the student body.

These students stood up there and talked about issues close to them. Fehseke said she personally new someone who was in a bad way and had considered tragic options so her topic was close to her heart.

But these are our students up there going toe-to-toe with legislators who don’t have any real thought of spending additional money at this time. These kids are asking for studies, for review…for help.

The group was part of a delegation of high school students from across southeast Iowa assembled to present on three topics. Mental health in our high schools, school scheduling options and the pros and cons of body cameras and dashboard cameras in law enforcement.

The families of these students should be very proud of the way they stood up there and took questions from legislators. They should be proud of the way they responded to questions posed to them, some not so pleasant in a volatile political climate. Not that the legislators were tough on the students, but they were matter of fact. They asked the students how they expect these wish lists to be paid for. They asked if the students themselves were willing to go into law enforcement or the mental health field in Iowa to help with these problems.

The really great thing…they always had an answer. These kids were well versed and prepared. The mentors should be proud as well as we were not only represented well by the adults who attended the Southeast Iowa Leadership Days, but our students as well.

Before leaving the event on Wednesday I stopped and asked Fehseke and Hellman if they learned anything from the conference.

“I’m not sure politics is in my future,” Fehseke said.

“It’s not a path I had considered,” Hellman said.

I’m not so sure we shouldn’t or won’t see their names on a ballot in the future.

But that’s Beside the Point.





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