Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Feb. 17, 2005

Let's celebrate!

I enjoy giving my students hands-on projects. I feel they provide more experience than a "canned" assignment ever could. But sometimes it's difficult to come up with ideas.

This year was easier. I've always enjoyed celebrating anniversaries and milestone birthdays. My brother, sister and I planned 25th, 35th and 50th wedding anniversary celebrations for our parents. When Art's Mom turned 90 five years ago, we made a booklet of her life story and traveled 12 hours one way to present it to her at her home in Wisconsin on her special day. When Mom turned 80 last year, I organized a reception at her home.

Town anniversaries are reasons to celebrate, too. When my hometown of Burns turned 100 in 1980, I was there for the parade, quilt shows and programs. I helped with the centennial book and did some stories for the local paper.

This year Manhattan and Riley County are celebrating their 150th with a festival in Manhattan's City Park June 4-5 and a Great Plains Chautauqua June 16-21. There will also be historical tours and lectures, quilt shows, a Damon Runyon event, church anniversaries and other events throughout 2005.

Those involved in the sesquicentennial are encouraging everyone to get involved, so I figured why not take them up on the suggestion? I assigned my Community Media class at K-State to work with area elementary and high school students on a special section for the Riley Countian.

This special section will include stories on ghost towns, cemeteries, churches, schools, ethnic groups, farming, business and entrepreneurship, organizations, veterans of wars, historic buildings and others, and will have photos, maps and a time line to show the history of smaller communities in the county.

To get the students excited about this project, I've had guests come to class to discuss various aspects. Lowell Jack, Riley County's unofficial historian, gave tidbits from his recent historical calendars. Dave Lewis of KMAN radio discussed events and how people can get involved. Cheryl Collins, director of the Riley County Historical Museum, and Romelle VanSickle, editor of the Countian, told students about the newspaper's history. A.Q. Miller, for whom K-State's School of Journalism and Mass Communications is named, was editor of the Riley Regent in the early 1900s.

Collins is excited about the project.

"Your stories are important, but they will be even more important 100 years from now," she told the students.

Some of the objectives of the Manhattan/Riley County Sesquicentennial Committee are:

- to encourage the widest possible variety of individuals and groups to participate in the 150th with programs and projects presenting, preserving and fostering an appreciation for our heritage

- to work with Manhattan/Riley County educational institutions to develop programs/projects for the 150th

- to focus on the full 150 years of history so that all institutions and people, no matter how long their connection with Manhattan/Riley County, may participate and so that more recent history is collected for the future.

Romelle and I would be happy to listen to any ideas our readers may have for the 150th so we can include them in the special May sesquicentennial issue. You can reach me by e-mail at [email protected] or contact Romelle at the Countian. Let's celebrate our heritage!

2005 Index