It was just about 2 weeks ago that I had the pleasure of speaking to students and adults in several areas of Kansas, namely Ellinwood, Augusta and Andover.
It was high school teacher Connie Mitcham, with help from Sheri Holmes, Director of Library Services, who, with great effort, put together my visit to Ellinwood, which was funded by the Ellinwood School District and Ellinwood Library Foundation. Of course, it was also accomplished by the positive input of Ben Jacobs, Schoo
l Superintendent. Middle school & high school students from Ellinwood, Chase, Central Plains, Hoisington, Strafford, Wilson attended 2 of the presentations, while an evening presentation was arranged for adults and additional students. One of the observations I made while there was the incredible and beautiful interaction that school interpreter, Melissa Long, made with one of her very special students.
Must thank both Larry Drees, Library Foundation president, for the long, but interesting (seeing giant wheat grain elevators, one after another) 2 hour drive from the brand new and beautiful Wichita airport, and then Connie's husband, Scott Mitchum, for the ride back to our new lodging in Wichita in preparation for the next day's presentation schedule, held at Augusta High School under the sponsorship of the Southwest Plains Regional Center, under the aegis of Belinda Miller and Jennifer Stelter.
In addition to students from Augusta, high school & middle school students from Colwich, St. Marks, and other local area towns attended. I also had the important opportunity to speak to and with, and answer questions of the teachers brought to the event who were learning "how" to teach the Holocaust.
One of the highlights at Augusta High was when Nathaniel & I were escorted to the school's large music room where some 50 students, backed by a small instrument ensemble, sung Hatikavah in Hebrew! The word hatikvah means hope - and every one of us needs to always have hope in our hearts and mind.
Many thanks to Donna Zerr, Augusta High School principal, for her warm introduction, and for hosting this important educational event, and for opening up her school to so many visitors.
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to address students at Andover High School, through the good efforts of LMS Sandy Reed. It was 11 years earlier that I first spoke in Andover, and it was a wonderful feeling to be with both Sandy, and my 2005 contact librarian, Rita Hurl, once again.
Nathaniel & I made a late flight back to New York, with a connection in Atlanta, and made it to to bed at 1:30 am, feeling somewhat exhausted, but absolutely fully fulfilled by the responsiveness and receptiveness shown by young adults and adults in our nation's extremely important "breadbasket" state of Kansas.