FSMS hosted dozens of interactive activities for an estimated 1,000 students and families at the Night of Innovation, held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 24. Robotics, art, music, dance and more filled the halls and gym throughout the night.
"I think it went really well," FSMS teacher Justin Mitchell, who organized the event, said. "Students enjoyed themselves and parents had a good time with their kids. I hope the students were able to develop an interest in something new, and that parents took away some resources to help their children develop skills and creativity."
Mitchell said several months of planning went into the night, from contacting people in the district with unique talents to gathering supplies and sponsors.
Among the guests were representatives from Sublime Media Group in Bowling Green, an advertising agency responsible for regional spots featuring Jim Henson-inspired puppet characters.
"It's a fun way to engage young people because there's lots of different arts involved," Sublime Puppets Project Manager David Hosay said. "For example, the design takes artwork and creativity, there's the making of the puppet, and then there's the production aspect."
Children were able to operate a variety of puppets and improvise scenes, and puppet designer James Kemp joined in to give them someone to play off of for the scene.
"We want to give the kids an example of what we do, have fun and inspire them to create their own things," Hosay said, noting that Kemp himself developed a passion for puppetry as a child.
Attendees were also able to explore hundreds of faraway landscapes through virtual reality, courtesy of Google Expedition Kits provided by Bowling Green Junior High teacher Shawn Quinn.
"A lot of museums have these, so I'll show them off," Quinn said. "There are over 700 expeditions on here, and I'm glad I get to come out and do this. I think it's important to collaborate with other school districts."
Oregon-based concept designer Don Carson, notable for his work as a lead designer and art director for Disney theme park attractions, Skyped in for a Q&A session as well. Carson's most famous projects include Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain and Mickey's Toontown in Disneyland.
"Anybody who wants to do this kind of work now has the opportunity to go to a couple schools," Carson said. "With the passion and training, anyone can conceivably get into this industry. It's small, but once you're in it's a very close-knit group."
According to Carson, theme park projects provide work for hundreds of disciplines, from graphic designers to print media writers.
"I ended up basically redesigning Splash Mountain from the ground up," Carson said. "That was the perfect education for this industry. It's actually easier to be creative with some limitations than if they say 'Here's a piece of land, do whatever you want.' "
Sponsors for the event included Franklin Bank and Trust, Berry Plastics, Sublime Media Group, Conundrum Workshop, Simpson County Schools, First Security Bank, Gerald Printing, Franklin Precision Industry, the Center for Gifted Studies at WKU and the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education (KAGE). Food trucks from Doughy & Co., Kona Ice, Shogun Express and On the Go BBQ & Grill catered throughout the night.
Mitchell said attendees, sponsors and community partners have all expressed interest in continuing the Night of Innovation.
"Based on the turnout, feedback through social media and community support, I think we'll have something like this again," Mitchell said.