Students, city benefit from hands-on community projects

Classroom learning is the foundation. Hands-on projects provide valuable experience. But community involvement is a connection that makes a student’s learning experience all the more meaningful.

Two projects in Columbus are perfect examples.

Since its start four years ago, the Mill Race Marathon has kept young people top-of-mind –- in running themselves, especially the Kids Fun Run and Student 5K, which makes them more likely to be health-conscious as adults — but also in marketing by using a student-created poster and Fun Run T-shirt design.

This year, student involvement took another step forward with about two dozen C4 Columbus Area Career Connection high school students designing and producing medals for the top 200 finishers in the marathon and half-marathon. Race organizers asked the C4 students to make the medals, and their efforts are part of the event’s Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project.

Teams of students pitched their design ideas to members of the marathon organizing committee. The best elements of each presentation were combined into the final design. From there the students began drilling, filing and laser-engraving the aluminum medals to create an award that will be presented at the Sept. 24 race.

The other project can be seen at Columbus City Hall.

Third- and fourth-grade students at Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln Campus worked with staff from Indiana University Center for Art and Design to create a unique sculpture that promoted the ideas of community understanding, respect for the environment and cultural awareness.

Students had to use three-dimensional geometry to develop the sculpture — The Wishing Forest Installation. The sculpture incorporates the idea of wishes in a bottle — giving them a creative way to express wishes of concern to them.

The organizations that have worked with these student groups deserve kudos, and the students’ efforts are to be commended.

These projects give students broader exposure to their city, promote community involvement and strengthen their learning experience. Equally important, the student efforts benefit the greater community.