On a sunny day in a place that Alvena Spangenberg loved, a statue of a little bronze girl, Emily, was dedicated to the long-time teacher and principal in the butterfly garden at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. Spangenberg passed away on Aug. 12, 2012.
She was a teacher, longtime USD 428 principal, and the first president of the Friends Of Cheyenne Bottoms group.
At the ceremony Alvena’s daughter, Stephanie Simpson shared a story about her mother. She said that as a kindergarten teacher, her mother started out the year with each student as a caterpillar. They then evolved into a beautiful butterfly as the year went on.
“We’ll be forever grateful for the talents she shared,” said Marcia Westhoff, president of the FOCB. Alvena’s father was a geologist who performed work at Cheyenne Bottoms and shared his love of the area with his daughter.
Alvena was instrumental in organizing the first second grade Wetlands Education Day at KWEC.
“We are proud to dedicate this memorial to Alvena,” Westhoff said. “She enjoyed nature and understood its importance.”
One of the memorial donations set up at the time of Alvena’s death was to the Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms. With those donations and others, the group purchased a statue of a child reading a book.
Along with the dedication, a meal was catered by Wheatland Cafe as well as a membership drive for the FOCB. The annual business meeting and membership drive was also held.
FOCB, in addition to the Wetlands Education Day, has also made donations for various projects to KWEC, as well as promoting outdoors education at Cheyenne Bottoms..
The membership fee is $20 a year for a family or $10 for an individual. The student fee is $5.