PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University hosted its annual Apple Day celebration, the longest running continuous tradition at PSU, on March 4.

Apple Day dates back to 1907, according to Andra Stefanoni, director of media relations at PSU, when the school’s first principal, Russell S. Russ, traveled to Topeka to lobby the legislature for funding to build PSU’s present-day campus.

“While he was lobbying for it, he wound up on the legislature floor, and that was a no-no, that was against the rules, so he was fined a barrel of apples,” Stefanoni said. “Back then I guess it was sort of a tongue-in-cheek sort of fine.”

Apple Day 2019 included faculty handing out apples donated by Marrone’s Food Service in Pittsburg. Ron Marrone, vice president of Marrone’s Food Service, is a PSU alumnus and the business is a longtime supporter of PSU.

There was also an Apple Day Apple Dessert Contest, in which a variety of judges drawn from PSU and the surrounding community judged apple pies, cakes, and other apple dessert dishes. In the apple pie category, the dessert contest first place winner was Cassidy Pankratz, followed by Morgan Michae and Brad Stefanoni in 2nd and 3rd place. Apple Dessert division winners were Madeline McCoy in 1st place, Jim Hughes in 2nd Place, and LaDonna Flynn in 3rd Place.

Dessert contest judges included winners of PSU’s Outstanding Faculty of 2018 awards, Kristen Livingston, Gloria Flynn, and Barbara McClaskey, along with PSU Student Government Association officers Cal Siebenmark and Seth George, and 2018 homecoming king and queen Parker Welborn and Desirae Hunt. In the interest of full disclosure, Morning Sun managing editor Patrick Richardson was also a judge for the first time this year, representing local media.

Later in the day, Apple Day featured the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, given this year to Joe Hart, a longtime PSU supporter and community volunteer.

“I was surprised and I’m very, very appreciative of it,” Hart said, according to a PSU press release, after being informed that he was this year’s winner.

Outstanding Faculty Awards were additionally presented to associate dean in the Kelce College of Business and a professor of marketing Eric Harris, assistant professor in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences Gary Wilson, and assistant professor in the Technology and Workforce Learning Department and coordinator of the Architectural Manufacturing Management and Technology program Charlie Phillips.

The Apple Day Committee also selected two Good Apple Award winners, 2014 PSU graduate Kyle Frank, who majored in Environmental and Safety Management and now works as on-site safety manager for Faith Technologies in Kansas City, and Alheli Aranda Britez, a 2014 graduate in Music who earned her master’s in Human Resources in 2016 and currently works as Human Relations Manager for Bimbo Bakeries in Arizona and New Mexico.

Professors Beyond the Classroom Grant Awards, funded by the PSU Student Government Association, additionally were awarded to associate professor in Plastics Engineering Technology Rebeca Book, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Shawnee Hendershoot, assistant professor in Graphics and Imaging Technologies Rocky Restivo, assistant professor in the Biology Department Andrew George, and instructor in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences Michele Barnaby. These grant awards will fund student trips to Arkansas, Iceland and Germany as well as paying for video production equipment.

Voya Outstanding Employee Recognition Awards, including a $750 stipend, were awarded to administrative specialist for the Biology Department Kelly Borden, and Director of Advancement Services Shari Brogan.

The Golden Gorilla Award, established in 1997 to recognize students for significant achievements in the categories of service, campus and community involvement, and academics, was given this year to students Cal Siebenmark, Anne Tomes, Caleb Thompson, Sarah Veesart, Kylie Declue, Julia Mount, Tyson Roderique, Sarah Wilkinson, Erin Horgan, Brittany Lindsay, Ruth Wilkinson, Samantha Bollinger, Navit’ Hill, Erin Kruse, Brooklyn McCann, Shelby McNamara, Callie Rice, Kali Clingerman, Kennedy Stein, Ted Steyer, Kelsey Vanfossan, Ryan Asauskas, Emily Davison, Connor McCaughey, Theodore Paoni, and Danielle Rakestraw.

Centennial Scholarships of $500 and $1000, awarded this year for the 15th time, were given to Amanda Anschutz and Tasia Saye, respectively.