The Fire Rises: My Innovative Journey

"The most powerful force on earth is the human soul on fire"

The Walls Street Journal: Les Miserables



I am not talking about the new one, I am talking about the 279-minute epic from French director Raymond Bernard. Now, if you think the time may be a little much consider that the book is 1,500 pages long and then consider if the movie were more accurate we’d be watching the same movie for…

Last Post Of The Semester

The semester has finally come to an end, and so has my journey with the Innovations class. I have drafted legislative suggestions for education reform, I have started up my own talk show with local community, I have gained knowledge through meeting with Exact Target, and have learned how to use social media effectively.
Although the class has come to an end, my projects and passions have not. I plan to continue taping my show, and expand our guest audience from local guests, to international Skype calls. My blog posts will also not come to an end. I will continue to keep all of my readers and informed after the Christmas break.
Until then,
Happy holidays!

In the Swing of Things

This week, I taped the second episode of On Edge. It was a brief filming due to time crunches, but provided a great conversation mostly centering around foreign policy.
Next week, we will be sitting down with the mayor and talking about local issues, and how to apply the fundamentals of this Innovations class to the city of Franklin. We will also be speaking with local YouTube superstar Anna Patarino who runs a fashion-oriented channel with a few thousand subscribers. I am excited to take a look at local innovation in our upcoming ep. 3 of On Edge.
Stay tuned!


With Thanksgiving break providing a much needed reprieve from school, it is time to get to work once more.

Recently in class, my fellow students made a green energy presentation to school administrators. It was great seeing the engagement on the side of the administrators.

In other news, our next episode of On Edge next Wednesday primarily featuring our city mayor: Joe Mcguiness.

Lastly, my previous project regarding state PSAT/SAT subsidies got picked up by the Indiana Legislative Advisory Council. As the general assembly reconvenes, action will begin to happen on our proposal.

We Need New Broadcasting Equipment Please!

The premier taping of my new talk show co-hosted by Mason Clark and I exceeded my expectations. Our first episode, featuring teachers Ron Bailey, John Jackson, and Don Wettrick was a roundtable discussion on a variety of issues. The conversations we had were lively, engaging, and genuine. However due to a technical malfunction, after an hour of taping, our show footage was lost.. So we re-taped the hour again, and made up for it.

Despite tech tech. failures, I have seen that this show has vast potential. We are hoping to make this a biweekly program, and add even more professionalism by building a set that would contribute greatly to the ambiance of the show.

An aspect that I am particularly excited about is engaging national guests via Skype. Collaborating with experts would add an entire new viewpoint to our discussion. 

All in all, we are on to planning our next show, building up a set, and engaging even more community members in our program.  

On Edge

It has been a busy few weeks in my life. Exhaustive political campaigning for candidates, participation as a lead in fall school play, challenging schoolwork, and involvement in more service organizations than I can count on my two hands. Now, at last, many of those priorities are coming to an end. Election season is over, the play is tomorrow, and I can finally shift more focus on to other things!

My next upcoming project is producing a community round-table talk show with my fellow co-host Mason Clark. I was inspired by the various political talk shows I enjoy on a weekly basis such as The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and other late night programs. We are formatting it similarly to those shows in featuring a one on one interview with a guest, and then a round-table discussion, making up the remaining entirety of our show. Our target audience is largely anyone who watches our local TV station, however we really want to target local decision makers, and community leaders that will be able to access this program at their will. Hopefully it will serve to enlighten, inform, and engage viewers in all that is current. 

 After filming our first ‘pilot episode,’ we have big plans to include experts through Skype from across the nation, and building a set to make this a professional endeavor. Be checking the airwaves for our show soon! I will attach a link to our Youtube channel once our production is filmed.

-C. Shank 


   After having some great successes with my SAT Legislative Reform project (due to resume this winter) I am finally able to move forward with a new idea I have.
   However, coming up with a new project concept proved to be unusually difficult for me this time around. I am a person who has never asked for much, do not complain, and tend to be happy with my situations, my day to day life, and my environment. Naturally, this characteristic, while lending itself to a positive personality, is difficult to overcome in the endless pursuit of progress present in the 21st century.
   This time around, I was inspired by some of the innovative TED talks that I have watched, and a Harvard economics lecture to build up my next proposed project. I want to bring great college professors, and keynote speakers to engage students and classrooms on the high school level. AP classes could be taught for one day by a political science professor from a local Indiana university. The entire student body could be captivated by guest speakers relating to their interests. Game designers for those interested in tech, journalists for those interested in media, musicians speaking to those intrigued by music, the educational opportunities are endless. 
   As a person who goes from working at the Indiana Statehouse, to precalculus on some weeks, I believe the true education of the future lies within the real world opportunities and connections you make, and are invested in.  

New Opportunities

The past weeks have seen many developments in my innovations class. 

I am putting some of the final touches on my educational economic analysis report in which I collaborated with Mr. Jeff Mercer of the school board. Simplified: property tax rates being too low, and being unable to increase them is our problem.

I have also been pursuing an amazing new, and totally free online class at Stanford University focusing on technology, entrepreneurship, and business. I have only just enrolled in this class, and expect to recieve new info soon!

My legislative endeavors are beginning to wrap up as well. I have conducted a survey regarding SAT and PSAT financial strain among students in my school, and have indeed found that money does deter students from taking these standardized tests the optimal amount of times. Next step is to sit down with legislators, and see what could be done-if anything- about this problem.

Lastly, I am working with my close friend in hosting a trendy and current talk show on our school broadcasting network. Essentially, it is an exact copy of what I wanted to do last year, but did not have near enough time to execute. I am meeting with my partner this weekend to discuss where we want to go with the show… Stay tuned!

The Path Forward

Connor here, with a recent update brief update on the beginning of my week! As I have never fully listed and explained the host of projects i am taking on, I figured now woudl be an excellent time to do so!

SAT Reform

Within the state of Indiana, Sophomores currently have one PSAT test covered for free by the government. Why cant we choose whether or not we want an SAT free, or a PSAT free? I know for myself, that the cost of taking an SAT adds up quickly. One of my friends estimates she has spent almost $500 on standardized testing. Covering just one test free would open up pathways for students to have the opportunity to pursue an education without having to worry about finances. I see this as a fundamental human right.

Economic Research and Grant Writing

Currently, I am teaming up with my good brother Klayton Harmon in his endeavors to supply tablets to special needs children within our school corporation. As purchasing multiple computing tablets can get expensive, I am employing my knowledge of writing grants to help subsidize the purchases.

Ive decided that I’m now tired of writing, and realize no one wants to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of my writing. So let’s continue this in a few days!


The Country is Always Aborning

Put simply, I like politics. Like a lot. I have a passion for people, liberation, and selfless service to my country and its people. I find an exhilarating challenge in analyzing different solutions to one sole problem, with the decision having a marked impact upon the future.

I have harnessed my aptitude for public service, and transformed it into action.
Currently, I serve my state of Indiana as the head chair of the Indiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council, am an active member of the Civic Education Advisory Committee sponsored by the Indiana Bar, volunteer for various federal/state political campaigns, and have built significant relationships with many high ranking officials in government. 

Today, I had the honor of meeting former Democratic congressman Rep. Lee Hamilton. Representative Hamilton is the definition of a public servant (notice I did not say politician). While discussing the need for basic civic education in this country, Hamilton expressed a profound thought. He said "The antidote to cynicism and skepticism is engagement." 

Although Rep. Hamilton was expounding upon the distrust of government observed so often today, his quote about engagement hold true in everyday life.

Just some food for thought. 

(Also, check out the Indiana Civic Health Index, a study portraying the amount of engagement of citizens across the nation in government, and community. Hint: Indiana ranks UNACCEPTABLY low.)