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Morning Sun
  • School activities celebrate the state's birthday

  • Famous Kansans gathered at Frank Layden Elementary in Frontenac to celebrate the state’s birthday and educate others about Kansas’ history and culture.

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  • Famous Kansans gathered at Frank Layden Elementary in Frontenac to celebrate the state’s birthday and educate others about Kansas’ history and culture.
    Making appearances were Wyatt Earp, Walter Chrysler, George Washington Carver, Clyde Cessna, Amelia Earhart, Robert Dole, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Barry Sanders, James Naismith and many others, each depicted by a Frank Layden fourth-grader.
    “We try to show the kids there’s a lot of good people who come from Kansas,” said fourth grade teacher Tim Vesco.
    Tim Vesco said the students have a list of potential people to study. Each student selected an individual to research, prepared a presentation and then shared his or her character’s stories at the Kansas Day event.
    “Each kid has a speech prepared and when someone goes up and pushes their ‘magic button’ they tell them a bit about the person,” he said.
    Gracyn Bolinger’s Kathleen Sebelius focused on the former governor’s political career and timeline, and Bolinger said she chose her subject because she thought studying Sebelius would be interesting.
    Reagan Clark studied and portrayed Dorothy Gale because of a love of the classic “Wizard of Oz” character.
    “My grandma made a costume and I really like Dorothy,” she said.
    She said it also was interesting to learn that Dorothy was an orphan.
    Miller Coleman dressed head to toe in NASA attire for his portrayal of Astronaut Ron Evans.
    “I think my favorite part was learning stuff about him,” Coleman said. “I think the most interesting part was that he was a captain in the Navy.”
    Fourth grade teacher Debbie Restivo said the event represents project-based learning at its best.
    “It brings tears to my eyes, because this is authentic learning,” she said as she watched approximately 80 students from four fourth-grade classes share what they had learned.
    Restivo said another major benefit is the way the activity involves families.
    “It really fosters that family contact with the school,” she said, adding that much of the research, preparation and learning takes place outside of school.
    In addition, the students gained experience in presentation and public speaking.
    Area festivities and family learning in honor of Kansas Day didn’t end with the school day.
    Meadowlark Elementary School in Pittsburg hosted an evening full of Kansas Day fun for students and families.
    The 130 people who attended had the opportunity to eat chili with their families, then went to rooms filled with games such as Bison Bingo, Meadowlark Musical Chairs (to “Home on the Range”), Sunflower Science and Prairie Parachute.
    Second- and third-grade title teacher Diana Oertle said the evening highlighted some of the school’s after-school academy activities.
    She said academy students have built structures with toothpicks and marshmallows, but this time they had the opportunity to show their parents what they are learning and to do the projects with their families.
    Page 2 of 2 - Oertle said the school tries to plan this type of activity for at least once a quarter and preferably every other month.
    “It’s just a nice chance for everyone to get together and have a good time,” she said.
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