One Great Bend elementary school celebrated its origins Thursday, following the suggestion of the Eisenhower Foundation on the 125th anniversary year of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eisenhower schools across the nation are observing the anniversary, Principal Tricia Reiser said. The Great Bend school chose to hold its celebration on Jan. 28, a day before Kansas Day. Today, Eisenhower will celebrate the 100th day of school for 2015-16, and it’s also Picture Day, but Reiser and her staff needed a full day to devote to the former President from Kansas.
In addition to the presidential celebration, they decided to celebrate 62 years of Eisenhower Elementary. The building was completed in 1954 for a cost of $287,000.
Former students were invited to visit the school on Thursday. Earlier this month, Reiser asked community members to share their Eisenhower memorabilia for a temporary display. Her request was the subject of a story in the Great Bend Tribune.
They day after the Tribune article ran, the principal heard from a man in Germany who lived here in 1974, the year Vice President Gerald Ford visited Great Bend. In anticipation of Ford’s visit, students in Miss Frances Disney’s first grade class wrote letters which were presented to the future president. Mr. Ford later sent a thank-you note.
Thursday’s lessons and games were all about Eisenhower, World War II and presidential elections.
Instead of their regular schedule, students switched classrooms every 40 minutes for different activities. They had cake in the gym as they watched a video. There were art projects, a “Flat Ike” project based on the well known “Flat Stanley” literacy program, a lesson on historic campaign slogans and buttons, and a demonstration by a law enforcement K-9.
If you’re wondering what K-9s have to do with Eisenhower, American dogs were sent overseas with military units during World War II. Before serving as president – from 1953 to 1961 – Ike was the supreme Allied commander during World War II.
Students also learned that the 34th president created NASA and is considered the father of the Interstate highway system.
Finally, the kids got to watch an episode of the television sitcom “Happy Days,” which was based in the 1950s. In this episode, Fonzie and his friend Ritchie disagreed about whether the next president should be Eisenhower or Adlai Stevenson. Superintendent Brad Reed showed he remembered the episode by quoting “The Fonz,” who tells a crowd at a campaign rally, “I like Ike. My bike likes Ike."