Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.

At East Washington Academy (EWA), third graders were engaged in an artsy literary project this school year — writing haikus, painting cherry blossoms and designing kimono-shaped bookmarks.

“We’ve written several different types of poetry. We’ve wrote cinquains and haikus and we’ve talked about onamonapias,” said third grade Expanded Learning Program (ELP) teacher Kristie Houston. “They just love poetry.”

K-12 students from the High Ability Program at Muncie Community Schools (MCS) had their projects — ranging from musical performances to visual representations of mathematics through art — on display for the Celebrate Excellence event Thursday evening at the Minnetrista.

Celebrate Excellence is a 30-year-old event that recognizes students’ work throughout the school year and highlights the “gifted and talented” programs at MCS, said Jason Rees, principal of EWA.

“It just a chance to brag on our kids. We have some amazing students,” Rees said. “I think it also gives the community a chance to say, ‘Hey, we are proud of our kids.’”

A painting by Montana Hicks, eighth grader at Southside Middle School, is displayed during Celebrate Excellence May 16, 2019, at the Minnetrista. Hicks said the painting was inspired by a window she saw in Chicago that reflected geometry. Rohith Rao, DN 

Some math-based projects displayed at the event included a painting of a window that Southside eighth grader Montana Hicks felt represented geometry.

“No matter where you look you can see geometry in everything. There’s math in everything. There’s some type of structure,” Hicks said.

Emma Judge, a sixth grader from Southside, was one of the students that made a clock with each dial represented as a math equation. 

“This one sounded the most intriguing to me because I love math and equations are like really easy for everybody to do —  if you just think about very hard,” Judge said.

Clocks designed by students in Emma Judge's sixth grade Southside Middle School class are displayed during Celebrate Excellence May 16, 2019, at Minnetrista. The dials on the clocks were replaced by math equations leading to the number. Rohith Rao, DN

She said the program allows for students to be as creative as they want and teachers allow the students to pursue any project they want.

J.D. Craft, student assistance coordinator at Southside Middle School, said the event also allows for teachers, educators and staff members to showcase their hard work as well.

“It gets the community together,” Craft said. “I think we need to highlight these things a little more often.”

Beth Buehler’s fourth grade ELP class at EWA worked on projects with a different theme — change in history, Muncie and themselves.

One example she said was her class learning about Ball Brothers sticking around in Muncie after the gas boom, touring the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass at Ball State and creating glass tiles themselves.

“I want them to become aware of the idea that they have the ability to make a change as one single individual,” Buehler said.

Buehler said she thinks in Muncie a lot of times people think “we’re just here living; we’re just kind of stuck in a rut and that’s where we are,” and hence, events like these benefit both students and the Muncie community.

“If I can implant that in [a student’s] mind now or plant that seed now, [then] maybe … when they are the adults in charge, they could make a huge difference for our community,” she said.

Shoes designed by students from Muncie Central High School are on display during Celebrate Excellence May 16,2019, at Minnetrista. This project was one among several worked on by Muncie Community Schools students this school year. Rohith Rao, DN

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.