Participants let their imaginations go at the Futures Planning Conference.
Welcome to the school of the future.
Every student has a computer on his or her desk. In addition to the Alternative High School, Lawrence also has an Alternative Junior High School and Alternative Elementary School. Arts are part of the core curriculum.
If it sounds like a dream, maybe it is. Then again, if planning starts now, almost anything is possible. Such was the theme at the Lawrence public schools' Futures Planning Conference at the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Dr.
"The purpose is to go far enough out into the future to sort of say, `What's our moon?'" facilitator Nancy Aronson said. "We want to shoot for decisions today that direct us in the way that we want to go."
The conference's 100 participants worked in groups of 10 to come up with skits or scenarios depicting their ideal school district in the year 2004.
After listening to each group's ideas, participants were to spend time hammering out some of the common themes.
"We're taking a strong look at global themes," Lawrence school Supt. Kathleen Williams said. "It's not a means to an end. We want to examine the initiatives we need to explore to reach our goals."
Williams said the diverse backgrounds of participants helped create a true Lawrence perspective.
"We have a lot of diverse opinions in this room," she said. "That's the point, finding a common ground."
West Junior High freshman Jordan Redding said he agreed to participate in the conference because he is the student council president of his school and wanted to find out more about the process of creating change in schools.
"I've found a lot of different viewpoints," he said. "I've learned a lot about how the community works and where they're coming from."
Jordan is among the youngest participants but said he felt he had garnered respect among his community elders.
"They told us we should speak up and they would listen," he said. "It shows part of the respect that kids can get."
Jordan said he realizes a lot of items on the dream list may come true in the near future, while others will have to wait several years before they come to fruition.
"We're helping with the future of schools," he said.
The Futures Planning Conference continues today with clarifying of goals, identification of possible projects and action planning on the agenda.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.