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Hixson High School students display the 3-D model of 'Nooga Springs, a concept they developed when asked by the Hixson Chamber Council what they would do to make the Hixson community a more desirable place to live. From left are VW eLab specialist Jill Moses; students Riley Bellamy, Emma Parson and Joseph Franke; and LeAnn Plumlee, VW eLab specialist.

When the Hixson Chamber Council asked Hixson High School ninth-graders how they'd improve the Hixson community, the students had plenty of ideas, ranging from a skate park to a multipurpose sports arena and concert venue to an open-air shopping experience, said Ryan Naegele, the council's president-elect.

"The students very legitimately put real thought and their hearts into thinking about what would benefit the community as a whole," he said, pointing out that the students' ideas showed they had considered people of all ages. "I was really impressed with how much work they put in."

About a dozen groups of students presented their ideas to the council, mostly through slide presentations.

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Hixson High School students display the 3-D model of 'Nooga Springs, a concept they developed when asked by the Hixson Chamber Council what they would do to make the Hixson community a more desirable place to live. From left are Joseph Franke, Emma Parson and Riley Bellamy. / Photo contributed by Schuyler Colquitt

One group went beyond the requirements, building a 3-D model of their concept, which they called 'Nooga Springs, in the school's Volkswagen eLab, said Naegele.

The group's members, Joseph Franke, Emma Parson and Riley Bellamy, surveyed parents and fellow students to find out what businesses and amenities they'd add to make the Hixson community a more desirable place to live. They then worked before and after school and during lunch over the course of two weeks to bring those ideas to life, creating miniature models of shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities using the lab's 3-D printer.

The students learned invaluable lessons in the process of developing the concept and seeing it through to completion, said Jill Moses, VW eLab specialist at Hixson High.

"They learned how to find a solution to a real world problem, provide a 3-D visual aid, build solid team-working skills, gain proficiency in using Microsoft PowerPoint, and overcome a fear of public speaking," she said. "If they would not have had access to the eLab, their visual aid would've stopped with a PowerPoint. They really brought their idea to life. That's truly what set them apart from their peers during the (Chamber Council) presentation."

The Hixson Chamber Council is holding its April 17 meeting in the Hixson High School library, where all the student groups will present their ideas to the community. The meeting begins at 11:45 a.m. and includes lunch, at a cost of $10 for chamber members and $15 for nonmembers.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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