Here's how some celebrated Kansas Day this year, including a video from the bottom of the Big Well

Hannah Brown and Jennifer Stultz
Kiowa County Signal
Haviland Grade School student Evie Stokes and 4th grade teacher Katrina Rinker pose during spirit week at Haviland Grade School, dressed up as characters from a Kansas-based show, Wizard of Oz.

The state of Kansas turned 160 years old on January 29. This gave teachers in many schools, including Haviland Grade School and Pratt's Southwest Elementary, a perfect opportunity to integrate the holiday into their classrooms. Others in the local communities also noted the important day in different ways. All of them found technology to be helpful in sharing their experiences.

Darise Fillmore, Haviland Grade School's fourth grade math, social studies, handwriting, and keyboarding, along with Kami Ballard who teaches reading, English, spelling and science, helped their students research a Kansas landmark or a place to visit in the state. 

Students designed a brochure about that featured place, made a model representing it, and presented a short speech about it in front of the class,” said Fillmore. 

Parents were able to view this presentation on an app called Seesaw, which teachers use to communicate with families.

First-grade students at Haviland focused on the state insect which is the honeybee, and the state bird, the western meadowlark. They presented facts and different art projects about the Kansas symbols. 

Fifth-grade students in Mrs. Cota’s class created a wax museum after students researched a famous Kansan. 

“They had a lot of fun bringing them to life by dressing up like them,” said Cota. “They also prepared a speech and poster as the person.”

Some of the Kansan’s featured were Langston Hughes, Buffalo Bill, Mabel Chase and Amelia Earhart. A video was compiled for families to view. 

Students and teachers at HGS participated in a Kansas- themed spirit week. Monday’s theme was favorite Wizard of Oz character, Tuesday was favorite Kansas university, Wednesday was a Kansas-themed dress code and students dressed up as cowboys or sunflowers. On Thursday students came to school dressed as their favorite Kansan.

At the Big Well Museum in Greensburg, accomplished violinist Lisa Mitchell carried on an annual tradition of playing Home on the Range someplace unique in in the state each year on Kansas Day by stepping down to the bottom of the well to play.

Top notch accoustics have drawn several musicians to the bottom of the well for musical perfromance over the years, but Mitchell’s poignant rendition of Home on the Range last Friday seems to have struck a chord with the social media public as her live video of the performance has more than 10K views on Facebook.

The Big Well Museum and Visitor’s Center celebrated Kansas Day with special Facebook posts to old and new persons in Kansas, as well as reposted the violin video.

That video may be accessed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thebigwellmuseum/videos/985809571950118 

In Pratt schools, some students at Southwest Elementary made paper sunflower headbands with state icon cubes, while others visited the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City via Zoom. Still others researched famous Kansans online using Google Classroom and other online resources.

The Pratt Lions Club members remembered the state's birthday with each member bringing something noteable about Kansas, and Lion Garey West brought his extensive collection of historic schoolbooks, some from the early 1800s.

"Many of these were in my grandmother's collection from when she moved to Macksville to be a teacher way back when," West said. "She taught English, arithmatic and shorthand. I don't think they teach that anymore."

Others in the club used their phones to share their state sentiments of the day.

Fourth-grade students from Southwest Elementary in Pratt participate in an annual experience on Kansas Day - making bread.

One thing taught long ago and still in 2021 in Pratt County is breadmaking skills. Pratt County Extension Agent Jodi Drake led the much-anticipated, annual breadmaking classes for Southwest Elementary fourth-graders at the Pratt County 4-H Building.

As usual, participating students were able to mix, make, bake and take home a loaf of bread.