2012 Western Cast Iron Art Conference embraces a unique community

By Kayla Overbey

Monday, October 8, 2012

College students arrive in droves, eagerly scanning their surroundings. People hurry past, creating sporadic movement as preparation takes place. At the registration table, devilishly formed miniature skulls with horns and deep-set eye sockets are on sale, along with shirts, patches and welding hats.

The next room hosts a variety of eccentric young faces that watch as people rush past, preparing rooms for planned workshops and demonstrations. Beyond, a sculpture yard is full of twisted bits of rusted metal. To many, these contorted shapes may mean nothing, but to participants of the Third Biennial Western Cast Iron Art Conference (WCIAC), the pieces of metal comprise meaningful art formed by skillful hands.

Fort Hays State University hosted the WCIAC for the first time this year from May 23-26. This conference, held biennially, attracts national attention and includes visitors from almost every state, as well as international visitors.

The immense amount of work to hold iron cast conferences requires effort from students and professionals alike. For recent Fort Hays State alum Jillian Thompson, the conference was a personal experience.

“Basically I’ve been helping to set up the conference for a year now,” Thompson said with a smile. “It’s been a really great conference. I’d say it’s the best I’ve been to.”Photo by Kayla Overbey

Thompson attended her first iron pour conference at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. At the annual conference, she was exposed to the fast-paced, hands-on experience of iron pouring and casting, and she became addicted.

Prior to the conference, Thompsonenrolled in sculpture and blacksmithing classes, which prompted her to change her major from interior design to sculpture. The conference in Wyoming and each one she participated in after that confirmed her decision to make iron art a permanent part of her life.

“I was just hooked. After [watching] my first iron pour, I wanted be a part of that,” Thompson said.

For many, the friendly atmosphere at conferences spurs the addiction of pouring iron. While the Fort Hays State WCIAC was filled with workshops, molding, performances and lectures, there was one constant: community. Each iron art conference held seems to attract and hold the attention of a unique, inviting group of people.

Lee Powers ’70, Department chair of Art and Design, described the conference as educational for students and a community experience for the established iron casters and citizens involved. The art of casting iron is an exceptional, team-driven act that draws in a variety of participants and creates meaningful relationships.

“You know, sculptors carve stone; they carve wood. They work in a variety of materials. Well, the folks who pour iron are even a unique part of the pouring community,” said Powers. “There’s something about the process of creating iron in the kind of furnaces they use that bonds these folks together as iron-pouring specialists.”

The conference encourages anyone interested in sculpture and iron casting to become involved, regardless of experience. Walter Ware III from the University of Colorado, Denver, agreed that the close-knit community is what draws newcomers into iron conferences. As he forged a lump of iron that would eventually become a knife, Ware smiled and chatted with newfound friends and acquaintances.

“There are a lot of folks here from different places. Everybody sees you, and they act like they know you,” Ware said. “I think the coolest thing about it is the camaraderie.”

Ware, who has worked in blacksmithing and is familiar with the iron pouring process, believes that working in different areas and with different people make the conferences extremely worthwhile. The experience students can gain from conferences is memorable simply because it is unlike any craft that they may have specialized in before.

For Alfred University, Alfred, N.Y., student Cory Nacniven, the experience at the Fort Hays State WCIAC exposed him to new art. Nacniven concentrated mostly in digital media during his time in school and decided to try iron casting after encouragement from his professor and because he needed one more credit to graduate.

Photo by Andrew Marsh“I had a feeling that metal was going to be a lot of fun,” Nacniven said. “I figured it was time to try something different. And this is really different. It’s a lot of fun and I’m starting to wish I did it more.”

Nacniven is only one of a few completely inexperienced students who participated in the iron pour. While most of the attendees are professionals and experts, Powers explained that the purpose of the conference is to broaden the iron casting community and provide students with a variety of educational experiences. The art of shaping molds and pouring molten iron, like many other hands-on art forms, is learned through mistakes.

“Sometimes there are some things that just don’t turn out, like anything we do. Not everything’s guaranteed. You gain through experience that quality of making [the molds] so they’ll pour correctly and break out well and the piece won’t have voids in it,” Powers explained.

After spending hours in workshops creating molds, Nacniven gained appreciation for the effort professional iron casters and sculptors put into their work. He said his time at the conference showed him a different kind of work ethic and learning technique than he could experience with digital media.

“It’s definitely a more hands-on experience. And even when it messes up, you feel like you learned something. Whereas in the digital world, if you mess up, you don’t really learn anything, you just undo it,” Nacniven said.

Even for those invested in sculpture and iron casting, the experiences acquired at Fort Hays State provide incentive to participate in more iron art conferences. For Peter Leones, also a student from Alfred University, working with iron broadened his academic and career goals from exclusively photographic to include sculpture.

After he applied and was accepted to art school for photography, Leones found himself interested in sculpture. This eventually led him to participate in “Meltdown,” an iron melting festival at his university sponsored by the National Casting Center Foundry.

“I realized I could do both photo and the whole hands-on sculpture stuff. And it could be a part of what I do,” Leones said.

After his initial conference, Leones found himself surrounded by artistic comrades and friends whom he could relate to. This is what drove him to cast iron art conferences again and again.
Photo by Andrew Marsh
“I like the community that surrounds it. I like how excited people are, how enthusiastic they are,” Leones explained. “And the majority of them are pyromaniacs, and I am too. So I guess it’s just a combination of that. And a drive to make sculpture, to make artwork.”

Leones, like many who have participated in the art of cast iron, has no doubt that he will continue to integrate iron conferences into his life in the future. Fort Hays State alum Jillian Thompson feels the same. She will begin graduate school in fall of 2012 at Southern Illinois University for sculpture, all because of her first sculpture class at Fort Hays State.

“So it’s definitely going to be a part of my life,” Thompson said. “For the rest of my life.”

(I wrote this article for FHSU’s TigerTalk Magazine in summer of 2012. It was published online and in print during July. I’m posting it here to archive my work. You can find the original online publication here.)


FHSU Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Sam Khoury 1978

By Kayla Overbey

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dr. Sam & Dunia Khoury with President Edward Hammond at an alumni gathering hosted by the Khourys in San Diego spring 2012.For alum Dr. Sam Khoury, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the journey through higher education advanced him into a successful career as a business owner and consultant of a nationally successful company. Khoury associates his success and determination strongly with his experiences at Fort Hays State University.

Khoury attained his Bachelor’s of Science degree from the America University of Beirut in the Middle Eastern country, Lebanon. He then attended FHSU and graduated in 1978 after obtaining his Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry. He went on to earn a MBA in Finance from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., and a Ph.D. in Polymer Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Wisconsin. Khoury’s decision to attend FHSU was solidified after an easy admissions process.

Khoury fondly remembers the faculty and staff in the chemistry department at FHSU. He credits his success to the instructors who encouraged and provided a foundation for him. He especially recalls long hours spent perfecting organic chemistry principles with his professor by his side.

“I have not seen such support from professors before or after my education experience. It is those fond memories with the professors at FHSU that made it possible for me to be successful,” Khoury said.

Thanks to his positive experience and extensive education, Khoury went on to perform research for The Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Mich. He was a member of a development team that focused on creating and implementing a unique technology valuation method. Additionally, his time within The Dow Chemical Company resulted in a total of eight patents issued from research.

“I was selected during my work at The Dow Chemical Company to develop the methods and the processes to value intellectual properties and leverage them through licensing,” Khoury said.

His research and work exposed the need for an efficient system to leverage intellectual property. In response to the increased global market demand for such a system, Khoury established Inavisis, Inc. in 2000. He is now the president of the company, which has experienced national growth within the United States and experimented briefly in the international field in the past twelve years. Khoury’s work includes communicating effectively with companies on their patents, trade secrets and trademarks.

He has participated in many charitable organizations within his local community in California, including Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, which provides health and surgical services from professional doctors and dentists to those in need at no cost. Khoury has also contributed effort to a fundraising campaign for his local community theater. He is dedicated to stimulating himself as a learner by becoming knowledgeable in new areas, such as sport, recreation and software tools like Photoshop.

Despite his many years as a student in multiple universities earning degrees and as a growing business owner and successful entrepreneur, Khoury remembers his years spent learning at FHSU. His sense of pride when reviewing his time at the university and the relationships he developed with instructors is apparent.

“They have one common goal: make the college experience for everyone exciting, challenging and affordable. In these hard economic times, that is exactly the type of organization and leaders we need,” Khoury said.

Khoury is a member of the FHSU Alumni Association and values the connection it gives him to the university. He appreciates “being in touch with fellow FHSU Tigers that share the same memories and aspiration for our kids, university and the country.”

To students who are eager to indulge in their education in Fort Hays State University as the academic year progresses, but nervous about the transition into college life, Khoury offered a few words of advice.

“You might not know it yet, but you chose the right university,” he said. “The whole community will support you in your studies—the teachers, the administration of the university, the people in the grocery store, the barber down the street.

Khoury and his wife, Dunia, met while attending Fort Hays State University. They have four daughters, Emily, Kristle, Laura, and Monica.

(I wrote this alumni feature for the FHSU Alumni Association. They published it on their website in October of 2012. I’m posting it here to archive my work. Read the original publication here.)

FHSU Alumni Association welcomes three new board members

By Kayla Overbey

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012

On June 8, the Executive Council of Fort Hays State University’s Alumni Association introduced three new board members at the summer meeting in Hays. Jon Armstrong, Hays; Dr. Diane Scott, Broomfield, Colo.; and Tracy Metzger, Hutchinson, were welcomed to the board.

Jon ArmstrongJon Armstrong received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication in 1996 and a Master of Liberal Studies in Organizational Leadership in 2008, both from FHSU. He is the assistant director of admissions and transfer coordinator in the FHSU office of admissions. He will serve a three-year faculty term on the board.





Diane ScottDr. Diane Scott, graduated from FHSU in 1988 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and again in 1990 with a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Guidance. She obtained her Ph.D. in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1995. Self-employed as a consultant and life coach, she will serve on the board for four years.





Tracy MetzgerTracy Metzger obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Computer Information Systems from FHSU in 1996. He is the vice president and chief technology officer at Lowen Corporation in Hutchinson. He was appointed to a two-year term to fill a vacancy.

Dr. Marcella “Marcy” Aycock
 now serves as president of the board. She is a 1984 FHSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education, as well as a 1994 Newman University graduate with a baster’s degree in Elementary Education. She obtained her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University in 2006. Aycock is the director of the Early College Health Science Academy at Butler County Community College.The Executive Council of 2012-2013 is composed of Dr. Marcella Aycock, Sedgwick; Brenda Herrman, Hays; Dr. Stephanie Bannister, Manhattan; Daron Jamison, Hays; Dan Sharp, Healy; Dr. Mary Martin, Hays; and Dennis Spratt, Lawrence.

Brenda Herrman serves the board as past president. She graduated from Midwestern State University with a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Public Administration in 1997 before obtaining a Master of Liberal Studies degree in Organizational Leadership from FHSU in 2000. Prior to retirement, Herrman held the position of director of public works for the city of Hays.

Dr. Stephanie Bannister serves on the Awards and Recognition committee as chair. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from FHSU in 1992, followed by a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at the University of Kansas in 1995. Bannister obtained her Ph.D. in Education (Counseling and Student Personnel) from Kansas State University in 2009. She works as the associate director of housing at KSU.

Daron Jamison obtained a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Management in 2003, both from FHSU. He works as the project coordinator of Nex-Tech Wireless, LLC, and will serve the board as Finance and Operations committee chair.

Dan Sharp is the Membership and Marketing committee chair. A 1984 FHSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing, he is the president of Sharp Brothers Seed Co. in Healy and Greeley, Colo.

Dr. Mary Martin will serve as an at-large member of the board. Martin obtained a bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Kansas State University in 1988 and a Master of Business Administration in Management from FHSU in 1991. She graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1995 with a Ph.D. in Marketing. She is an associate professor of Marketing at FHSU.

Dennis Spratt graduated from FHSU in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. He is the vice president of Wealth Management Group of KC, Inc., in Overland Park. Spratt will serve as an at-large member of the board.

Other members of the board include Molly Aspan ’00, Tulsa, Okla., attorney, Hall Estill;Cassie Augustine Jones ’96, Lakewood, Colo., vice president, O’Brien Advertising; Josh Biera ’92, Garden City, lieutenant, Kansas Highway Patrol; Monte Broeckelman ’92, Dodge City, chief financial officer, Pride Ag Resources; Brian DeWitt ’89, Hays, CPA, Adams Brown Beran & Ball Chtd.; Rich Dreiling ’69, Wichita, regional sales manager, Carlson Products; Diane Long ’72, Flower Mound, Texas, retired; Kevin Moeder ’82, LaCrosse, senior vice president/regional manager, Farmers Bank & Trust; Denise Riedel’86, Overland Park, owner, Riedel Communications/freelance consultant & writer; Chuck Sexson ’72, Topeka, director, Concealed Carry Licensing Unit, Office of Attorney General;Dave Voss ’80, ’82, Colby, network development manager, Centene Corp. Sunflower State Health Plan; Barry Yoxall ’81, ’82, Phillipsburg, vice president, First National Bank & Trust; and Gordon Zahradnik ’55, ‘58, Lyons, artist, Art of Z.

The association bids a fond farewell to three retiring board members:  Brad Haynes ’93, ’97, Hays; Stacy Kohlmeier ’84, Manhattan; and Half Century Club President Leo Lake ’57, ’61, Salina.

Established in 1916, the Fort Hays State University Alumni Association serves the population of FHSU graduates by identifying needs and providing solutions. More than 51,980 graduates live throughout the United States and approximately 73 foreign countries.  Twenty-four dedicated members comprise the Board of Directors and work to set the policy and direction of the association toward development of beneficial relationships between the university and alumni.

Board nominations are accepted as positions become available. To apply, please complete the application form, e-mail alumni@fhsu.edu or call 785-628-4430 or toll free 1-888-351-3591.

(This article was posted on the Fort Hays State University website in August of 2012 and am posting it here to archive my work. I was contacted by the FHSU Alumni Association to organize the information and write the article, and am listed as a guest writer in the original posting. Read the original publication here.)

The Conyacs — A Multi-Generational Tiger Family

By Kayla Overbey

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012

Alyssa ConyacAs fall approaches, Fort Hays State University welcomes back both new and current students. Alyssa Conyac, Stockton, will be a freshman following in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, who each graduated from FHSU. She will be the fourth generation in her immediate family to become an FHSU Tiger.

Linda S. (Barnett) Conyac, Alyssa’s mother, provides the third generational step to the Conyac family. She graduated from FHSU in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in communication and a minor in political science. She also obtained a master’s degree in communications from FHSU in 1996.

Linda chose FHSU after hearing a recommendation from an instructor during a career shadowing class and receiving scholarships. During her time at FHSU, Linda recalls,  she participated in the FHSU Leaderand a public relations internship at The Mall. She fondly remembers the faculty and Linda & Phillip Conyacstaff.

Linda is now the senior branch manager of Heartland Lions Eye Bank in Hays. Her interest stemmed from an interest in organ donation and experience she gathered after working many medical jobs through college. She found that the position combines her degrees and experience well. She is also involved in her community through the school board, her children’s activities and her church.

Linda encourages students to maintain their drive for excellence and continuously be willing to learn.

“Never [lose] your sense of curiosity. Now with the Internet, it’s easier than ever to look things up,” she said.

The second generation Tiger in the Conyac family is Alyssa’s grandmother, Constance “Connie” M. (Pyle) Conyac. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business in 1965, and an M.B.A. in accounting in 1985. Connie admires FHSU’s location and position as a leader in western Kansas.

During her years at FHSU, Connie was involved in a number of activities, including Women’s Leadership Organization, Mortar Board and Lambda Iota Tau literary society. She was also a graduate assistant for the English Department and a graduate assistant in the accounting department.

Connie ConyacConnie is newly retired from a career in accounting. She is also a retired public school teacher, in addition to having taught at FHSU from 1985 to 1988. She dedicates a large portion of her time to her community through schools, her church, a home association, the Kansas City chapter of Women in the Arts, as well as enjoying her grandchildren. She is very active and considers her retirement a new chapter for potential in her life.

“I currently live where I fully take advantage of the many opportunities offered by a local community college for classes, lectures and performances,” said Connie. “I am considering what my next career will be.”

Alyssa’s great-grandmother, and the first member of the family to become a Tiger, the late Doris Bessie (Jones) Conyac enrolled at Kansas State Teachers College at Hays on Sep. 8, 1931, for $26.50. She graduated from high school in June of 1923 and taught school in Rooks County for three years before pursuing a teaching certificate.

Doris’ diaries describe college life similarly to what many would say college is like today. On June 1, 1932, she wrote, “Classes began. My subjects are swimming, tennis, clothing, Hygiene 33, and playground and community recreation.” She also wrote about pep rallies, bonfires and football games, as well as her recreational activities, like tennis, and her study habits. She wrote that wheat grew not far from the classroom windows.

As the Depression set in, Doris ended her schooling and gave her financial savings to a sibling before returning to teach at small schools. Eventually, she decided to pursue a career in cosmetology and ran a business in Stockton for 33 years. Family records show that she earned more than $3,000 per year in the early 1940s post-Depression era. Doris married Lawrence Conyac in 1940.Doris Bessie (Jones) Conyac, 1931-32

Doris motivated and instilled determination in both Linda and Connie during their academic years. Connie said of her mother-in-law, “Doris Conyac was an inspiration to me, encouraging me to complete my college education after I was married.”

Besides the direct line of Conyac women dating back to the 1930s who attended FHSU, Alyssa has many other family ties to the university. Alyssa’s father, Phillip, took classes for a year before graduating from Kansas State University. Cousin Austin M. Pyle graduated in 2005 and was preceded by a number of great aunts and uncles:  Nancy (David) ’98 and A. Lawrence “Larry” Conyac ’83, Stockon; Rebecca (Arpin) ’71 and John W. Pyle ’71, Hays. Additionally, Alyssa’s grandfather, Carrol J. Conyac, attended FHSU in 1960.

Alyssa was awarded many scholarships for her academic and community achievements and will take advantage of the opportunities FHSU provides. She received a scholarship based on her ACT score, as well as two from the FHSU Department of Business, which will assist in her resident hall and tuition costs. Alyssa also received a Vietnam Veteran’s Association Scholarship and a St. Thomas Church Scholarship.Doris Conyac holding baby Alyssa

Alyssa will live on campus and is most excited to experience dorm life and gain lifelong friends. She will major in marketing and minor in Spanish. She was drawn to FHSU by both her scholarships and the comfortable size of the university. FHSU wishes Alyssa, as well as all incoming students, the best as they officially join the Tiger family this fall. FHSU is also excited to welcome back all faculty, staff and returning students for another productive school year.

As a member of a Tiger generational family, Alyssa, like many other Tiger descendants, is eligible to apply for the Tiger Generational Scholarship. This award was recently established by the FHSU Alumni Association. Funds are generated through a number of venues, including the Tiger T-Shirt Project. To be eligible, a student must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student with a 3.0 grade point average minimum, with preference given to children or grandchildren of FHSU graduates, including stepchildren and adopted children. For more information regarding the scholarship, please visit https://secure.fhsu.edu/scholarship/default.asp.

(This article was posted on the Fort Hays State University website in September of 2012. I was contacted by the FHSU Alumni Association for this project and am listed as a guest writer in the original publication.  I’m posting it here to archive my work. Read the original here.)

AugustFest introduces new students to campus

By Kayla Overbey

Monday, August 6, 2012

As the fall semester and move-in date for incoming freshman approach each year, the Division of Student Affairs and The Center for Student Involvement at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., prepare a list of student activities and seminars. They schedule orientations, sport scrimmages, poster sales and picnics that include the Greek community, separate religious organizations and campus clubs.

The result is a three-week event that begins Aug. 12 and ends in September called AugustFest. The back-to-school celebration is designed to encourage communication between students and faculty and develop a campus of strangers into a close, familiar community.

While AugustFest holds a variety of optional events, some are required for incoming freshman and new students.  The new student orientation, which is held every year in Sheridan Hall’s Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center, is one such event. This orientation is designed to prepare new students for life at Fort Hays State.  Faculty and a keynote speaker will help familiarize new students with university policies and prepare them for the academic expectations of professors.

Fort Hays State conscientiously plans orientations for non-freshman, too.  Separate, respective orientations are available for adult learners and transfer students.

It is mandatory for freshman living in the residence hall to attend their respective floor meetings. During these meetings, residence assistants introduce Fort Hays State’s residence hall policies and regulations to freshman.

Another freshman-required event is Playfair, a popular student experience held in Lewis Field Stadium. At Playfair, students will receive the opportunity to develop friendships and become comfortable in the campus community through a fun hands-on encounter. 

AugustFest extends beyond required activities. One of the most popular AugustFest events is the annual back-to-school picnic, held in the campus Quad. Sponsored by Student Affairs and The Center for Student Involvement, this picnic is filled with music, organizations and opportunities to get involved on campus with faculty and students.

AugustFest intends to expose students to a variety of experiences that will best prepare them for a successful academic career. For example, the Senior Start-Up information session is directed toward seniors intending to graduate. 

Another academically important event is the T.I.G.E.R.S. Series Workshop. This program, offered by the Fort Hays State Kelly Center, begins a series of college and life skill workshops scheduled throughout the school year. The first workshop explains the TigerTracks program and enrollment, but the series varies over relationship issues, study techniques, money management and more.

Integral parts of the Fort Hays State community are the separate sports teams, sororities, fraternities and other organizations on campus. Throughout AugustFest, the different sports teams—men and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball—hold scrimmages and exhibition games to attract new students. “Get Plugged In!” invites students to meet all of the local Christian churches, college ministries and non-profit Christian coffee houses in the Hays area. The Greek community schedules a variety of events throughout AugustFest and offers scholarship, leadership and community service opportunities. 

While AugustFest is filled with beneficial programs, required orientations and a variety of organizations, other smaller events happen every day. There are dessert socials, club meet-and-greets, campus tours, poster sales, music performances, obstacle course competitions, theater rallies and more. AugustFest provides endless opportunities to meet peers and develop potential lifelong relationships.

This story was published on the FHSU website as a campus spotlight on Monday, August 6, 2012. I’m posting it here to archive my work. Read the story on the FHSU website here.

One-room Plymouth schoolhouse provides educational opportunities

By Kayla Overbey

Thursday, June 28, 2012

This year the Plymouth schoolhouse will celebrate 138 years since its initial construction.  The historic one-room schoolhouse was established on a farm in eastern Russell County, Kan., in 1874, where it served the population of pioneers and farmers as an educational institution. The Plymouth schoolhouse is now located in the heart of the Fort Hays State University campus. It serenely sits southeast of the Forsyth library, across from Tomanek Hall.

The restoration project began in 1975 and took four years to complete. Here, the schoolhouse sits in its original location in Russell County, Kan.

The idea to move and reconstruct the schoolhouse was developed by the FHSU chapter of Phi Delta Kappa at a leadership conference. During the road trip to that conference in Salina in 1975, chapter officers Allan Miller, Nancy Vogel and Bill Claflin talked about the historic presence of limestone in fence posts and schoolhouses throughout the western region of Kansas.

The leadership conference hosted Phi Delta Kappa chapters from multiple universities throughout the state of Kansas. As an activity, each university chapter was asked to propose a project to honor the organization.

“We didn’t really have an idea. All the other schools had these monstrous ideas,” Miller said. “It was almost like a bragging fest.”

Miller, Vogel and Claflin all decided that the preservation of a schoolhouse to represent the historic importance of education in Kansas would be a perfect proposal. During the drive home, the three truly contemplated their reconstruction idea and agreed that it was actually possible. After all, FHSU’s history is rooted in limestone schoolhouses.

“That’s the reason Fort Hays State University was founded,” Miller said. “to educate the teachers of one room schoolhouses.”

The Garvey Foundation of Wichita financially supported the project, along with various other small grants and donations. The restoration project was officially initiated in 1975.

Workers disassembled the house one limestone rock at a time, making sure to mark each stone for proper placement. The transfer and reconstruction of the house were all team efforts. Departments throughout FHSU were involved, as well as community members from Hays, Dorrance and Wilson.

After four years of construction, the restoration project was finally complete. On Sept. 22, 1979, the building was dedicated to Kansas’ pioneering ancestors, who furnished the importance of education in their children.

FHSU was nationally recognized for its consideration of Kansas’ educational history. Miller traveled to universities and presented an award-winning multimedia show over the Plymouth schoolhouse’s history and its reconstruction.

A pot-bellied stove was donated to the Plymouth schoolhouse to preserve authenticity.

“It developed a sense of community not only for Phi Delta Kappa, but for the entire university community,” Miller said. “It gave Fort Hays State and Phi Delta Kappa some national recognition because we showed the multimedia presentation to a national convention. Afterwards, it’s like it made us famous.”

The schoolhouse opened to the public for guided tours and viewing following completion, and remains open today. Schools are especially encouraged to participate. The same award-winning multimedia show titled “Education: Our Heritage on the Great Plains,” which specifically targets fourth through sixth grade students, is available to expose students to the documentation of early education in Kansas, as well as the Plymouth schoolhouse’s reconstruction.

In the early 1900s, this schoolroom would have housed grades ranging from first to eighth grade. According to school registers, the maximum number of students attending reached 36. Female instructors as young as 16 years old and most likely married with a child would instruct the students in mathematics, calligraphy, English and a variety of other subjects, all while critiquing posture and manners.

Many students had obligations to their family farms and would leave during harvest seasons to help with work. However, some students eventually continued their education. The school’s register states that a man in his 40s returned to complete his schooling.

While education was the top priority in the schoolhouse, the building acted as a room for various functions, including celebrations and city meetings. The building was valuable to the community and may have been protected from fires and floods by a trench.

The interior of Plymouth schoolhouse is filled with authentic desks and teaching materials from the 1900s.

Community donations made to the schoolhouse include a card catalog, which is not original to the schoolhouse, a pot-bellied stove donated by Malcom Shaw, Wilson, and a multitude of books that describe educational subject matter from the 1900s. These additions help furnish an accurate and historical atmosphere.

Thanks to the proposed idea in 1975, the Plymouth schoolhouse stands on the FHSU campus as a testament to the dedication of pioneers to education. This building provides an opportunity for exposure to education in the late 1900s.

For those who wish to relive the experience found in academic institutions of the late 19th century, tours are available by contacting Dr. Paul Adams, Anschutz professor of education and professor of physics in the Science and Mathematics Education Institute. Email padams@fhsu.edu or call (785) 628-4538. 

Check out the Fort Hays State University Facebook page for more of my photography. You can look at more in-depth photos of the Plymouth Schoolhouse right here.

(This article was posted on the Fort Hays State University website on Thursday, June28, 2012. I’m posting it here, along with pictures I edited, to archive my work.)

FHSU summer camp plans for success

By Kayla Overbey

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A majority of children look forward to avoiding school for the summer and letting everything they learned over the past year slip out of their heads.  However, for kids involved with Fort Hays State University Science and Mathematics Education Institute’s (SMEI) summer camps, this is not the case.

Campers show off their projects at FHSU 2011 summer camps.

Instead of allowing bright, young kids to waste days in front of a television, FHSU is using these programs to instigate learning during the summer. The unique camps cover a variety of subjects and include students from almost every academic grade.

Two of the programs, Camp Invention and Fast Track Science Summer Camp, have already met registration capacity. The three remaining programs provide opportunities to strengthen education during the summer and are designed to target specific skills and different grades. Fort Hays State is welcoming any student that wishes to register with their summer programs.

Students entering grades five through seven can “Make a Splash with Math” at the Fort Hays State Mathematics camp, held June 18-21. Starting at 8 a.m. and ending at noon, participants in this program will become more familiar in the foundations of math through interactive play with water.

Instructors will introduce kids to water park design, from waterslides to concession stands, all while strengthening their foundations of math, said Dr. Lanee Young, associate professor of mathematics and computer science at Fort Hays State.

“We will determine how fast the water should be moving down the slide, how much to charge for snacks so we make a profit at the concession stand, create models to scale, design a fun-shaped pool and play with water,” Young said.

Campers develop fun relationships with instructors at the FHSU 2011 summer camps.

Over four days, the students will contribute to team formation, design and creation. At the end of the program, the participants will celebrate their success with a water fight.

Older students may feel drawn to a more mature academic program. Fort Hays State is dedicated to providing a positive summer experience for all ages, including middle school and early high school students.

The newest Art and Science Program will make a debut this summer by focusing on the conceptualization, design and construction of roller coasters. This five-day program, held June 25-29, is targeted to young adults entering grades six through nine. Not only will participants learn about the physics of theme park rides, but will also create original marketing plans to advertise their parks.

Fort Hays State also hosts the Hays Summer Academy Starbase Robotics and Space camp. From June 25-28, students entering grades five through seven will meet in Tomanek Hall on the FHSU campus to program and test Lego robotics equipment and launch hand-made rockets. Through this award winning U.S. Department of Defense youth education program, kids will become inspired to become active in math and science.

A camper at one of the FHSU 2011 summer camps explores robotics machinery.

Each program focuses on specific techniques to help campers become more involved and excited about math and science skills. Fort Hays State hopes to encourage kids concerning math and science, and increase their confidence with such skills.

Those interested should visit the Science and Mathematics Education Institute website at www.fhsu.edu/smei/camps for more information and online registration forms, or call 785-628-4168. Registration information, such as deadlines, prices, times and locations are available through the website.

(This article was posted on the Fort Hays State University website on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. I’m posting it here, along with pictures I edited, to archive my work.)