What is the schedule for MPower U’s visit to Des Moines for SE Iowa Days

WEST BURLINGTON — A “sweet” group of thoughtful students recently gathered at the Little Theater on the campus of Southeastern Community College to impact the future of Iowa State.

This group of 24 high school students from 13 area high schools is part of the 16th iteration of the MPower U class – with the chosen name “Sweet 16” – which meets monthly throughout the school year to broaden their horizons. and become better informed citizens.

This meeting was intended to formalize position statements to present to area lawmakers when they travel to Des Moines on Wednesday, Feb. 2, for the annual Southeast Iowa Days at the State Capital.

“The students have put a lot of time and effort into what they think will make the state great,” said Carlene Woodside, instructor and group coordinator.

They have spent the school year deciding what is important to them during monthly classes. They met with leaders in the region and explored the region by organizing courses in different cities where the students live.

“It was a lot of fun,” said David Denbow, a student from Central Lee High School. “I enjoyed the leadership courses and the trips. It’s fun to visit the communities in southeast Iowa where all the schools are based.

Fun has been combined with hard work and that work culminates in the upcoming presentation to lawmakers.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking but cool to meet our reps,” said Ava Parkins of Notre Dame High School. “I think we’ve done a lot of research and we know it well, but after all, we’re high school kids and we don’t know everything.”

More importantly, they are excited about this opportunity which is a highlight of the year for the program.

“Having them heard and listened to goes a long way toward growing their leadership,” Woodside said. “It helps them advance their critical thinking.”

Thinking is what the groups were doing that day as they planned how to be persuasive with their statements. They met in three groups of eight and the computers were open as they brainstormed ideas and formulated their statements. They were laughing, smiling and also very serious.

The three topics the students plan to present are: Standard Core Scoring, Rural Internet Access, and Work-Based Learning.

MPowerU students, from left, Brenna Remele, of Burlington High School, Carlea Beckman, of Danville High School, and Olivia Schmidgall, of Mediapolis High school, react Friday, January 21, 2022, while researching their topic the standard base notation at the Little Theater on the campus of Southeastern Community College in West Burlington.  The students will present their position statement to lawmakers Feb. 2 in Des Moines.

Standard base ranking

Students explained that grading is inconsistent across the state of Iowa. Through their research, they learned that grading is not uniform from school to school and even from teacher to teacher.

“We need to reevaluate the system,” said Brenna Remele, a student at Burlington High School. “All schools and teachers have different standards.”

They discovered that some schools allow students to retake tests and some have no set deadlines for projects. Thus, there is no incentive to go to class or get the job done on time.

They believe the grading standard should be percentage scores and letter grades modeled on what they found consistent in college.

“We want that to change, so we can better prepare for our future,” said Danville High School student Carlea Beckman.

MPowerU student David Denbow of Central Lee High School shows notes from his phone to Logan Kamrath of Notre Dame High School on Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, as they prepare with their teammates for their statement position on rural Internet access at the Little Theater on the campus of Southeastern Community College in West Burlington.  They will present their findings to lawmakers during the trip to the state capitol on Feb. 2.  Aidan Koehler of Keokuk High School is the top left student.

Rural Internet Access

The students understand that this topic is well funded and in the crosshairs of legislators, but they wanted to stress the importance of getting it right.

“The money is already there, but the focus seems to be just on rural areas and some areas are neglected,” said Logan Kamrath of Notre Dame High School.

They pointed out that areas are still being missed and that internet speeds in covered areas are not consistent from site to site.

“We need to get better and more consistent speeds, not just access,” said Josey Watznauer of Danville High School.

The goal is to have a statewide standard for everyone.

“They are on the right track, but we have to make sure we are raising the standards in all areas,” added Kamrath.

MPowerU group instructor and coordinator Carlene Woodside speaks to students Friday, January 21, 2022 about the upcoming march to the state capitol to present three position statements to lawmakers.  The students will be in Des Moines on February 2.

Learning in the workplace

This concept will focus on expanding the opportunity for high school students to learn outside of the classroom through work experiences and internships. They want to offer more pairing opportunities and increase travel to the workplace.

The group advocates for each school to have or share a multi-professional career leader.

The MOC can help engage students in the workforce and possible future jobs. The exposure will help them chart a better career path, so they don’t waste time and money in college choosing a career.

“This is a growing trend and we believe every school should have it available,” said West Burlington High School student Abbey Bence. “It allows students to chart a path for your career.”

Next stop: Des Moines

The group ended the day with a practice of their statements in front of professionals in the region to prepare for the process before they go live before lawmakers.

“I’m definitely nervous, I don’t want to ruin it, but I have some experience in public speaking,” said Aidan Koehler of Keokuk High School.

That was the feeling throughout the room as the students worked to tighten up their proposals and anticipate the day in Des Moines.

It will be a long day as they leave at dawn on Wednesday and have a busy schedule before returning home late at night. They have the chance to dine with lunch at the Latin King, a well-known Italian restaurant on the east side of Des Moines.

Then they tour the Capitol before giving presentations in the nearby Wallace Building.

The day in the capital ends with a reception at the Embassy Suites, where students can mingle with lawmakers and the Southeast Iowa contingent while enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres.

It is also a chance for students to work on their networking skills. They are each tasked with meeting 10 new people and at least one legislator as part of their class work.

“Make sure they know you, so you can make your voice heard in the future,” Woodside said.

After all, that’s what it’s all about. To meet new people, share ideas and brainstorm solutions to problems.

“I’ve made lifelong connections, had unique experiences, and talked to many people from different careers that I wouldn’t typically be exposed to,” Mount Pleasant High School student Tim Cam said of the MPower class. U.

2022 Southeast Iowa Days Schedule

Wednesday February 2

  • 11:30 a.m.: The Latin King Restaurant, 2200 Hubbell Ave, Des Moines, welcome and lunch with the Southeastern Iowa delegation
  • 12:30 p.m.: Travel and Iowa State Capitol
  • 2:15 p.m.: Delegation photo on the steps of the Rotunda
  • 2:30 p.m.: Welcome and introductions from MPower U students at the Wallace Building Auditorium, 502 E. Ninth St.
  • 3:15 p.m.: Iowa State Redistricting – David Roederer, Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission
  • 4:00 p.m.: Check-in at the Embassy Suites
  • 5:00 p.m.: Legislative reception in the hotel atrium

Thursday January 3

  • 8:25 a.m.: Welcome to the Embassy Suites Salon E
  • 8:30 a.m.: Governor Kim Reynolds will speak
  • 8:45 a.m.: Scott Marler, Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation
  • 9:15 a.m.: Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development Manager
  • 9:45 a.m.: Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority
  • 10:15 am: David Barker of Davenport-based Barker Apartments will present on the future of housing in Iowa.

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