National Award for Community History Project

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We received a national award for our collaborative project with the elementary school, local volunteers, and both Lecompton museums!

Local volunteers working with 4th grade students on researching an historic landmark in Lecompton, Kansas.

Local volunteers working with 4th grade students on a historic landmark in Lecompton, Kansas.

 

We were selected as American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) 2016 Award of Merit winners by the Leadership in History awards committee for our project “4th Graders’ QR Codes for Historic Lecompton Walking Tour in Lecompton, Kansas.”

Student making map of downtown Lecompton in 1916.

Student making map of downtown Lecompton in 1916.

Students and their Community Volunteers visited their researched site, along with 14 other sites in Lecompton.

Students and their Community Volunteers visited their researched site, along with 14 other sites in Lecompton.

From the days when Lecompton was the Capital of Kansas Territory, to the days when we had mysterious downtown fires and a bank robbery, this collaborative project not only invigorated interest in local history with our own kids but also with the public at-large through local news reports and social media.  The 4th grade students now have a pride of their historic town that they didn’t have before.  Visitors to our small town now have access to more information, even after hours!  Click here for Walking Tour of Lecompton with student history videos

The AASLH proudly announces that Sandy Gantz, 4th grade teacher in the Perry-Lecompton USD 343 School District, along with her school colleagues, and the museums in Lecompton–Constitution Hall and the Territorial Capital Museum– are the recipients of an Award of Merit.  The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 71st year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

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Students took a tour of Lecompton visiting all of the historic sites before starting their research.

This amazing project is the story of how a 4th grade teacher in a small town brought  together the local elementary school, local community volunteers, and two museums so that her students could learn and explore local history.  The educator from our very historic town, Lecompton, Kansas, population 660, wanted to have her grade learn about our history.  Lecompton was the Territorial Capital of Kansas and was the center of “Bleeding Kansas.”  Since many students, parents, and even teachers are not aware of the significance of the town, 4th grade teacher Sandy Gantz decided to have students do a research project to learn about our rich history.  Sandy Gantz received a grant from Thrivent Life Insurance Company.  She contacted the two museums in Lecompton.  One museum, Constitution Hall, is operated by the Kansas Historical Society.  The other museum, the Territorial Capital Museum, is operated by the Lecompton Historical Society.  Fifteen volunteers from the community were gathered to go to the school once a week for 6 weeks to help the kids do research on 15 different historic sites in Lecompton, Kansas.

Amazing 4th Grade teachers: Lisa Surface, Sandy Gantz, and Nettie Johnson. Angie Hess (far right) and William Gantz (not pictured) helped with making videos and the technology details.

Amazing 4th Grade teachers: Lisa Surface, Sandy Gantz, and Nettie Johnson. Angie Hess (far right) and William Gantz (not pictured) helped with making videos and the technology details.

Community Volunteers (minus one!)

Community Volunteers (minus one!)

Each volunteer was assigned to a group of about 3-4 students and they worked on researching one site together.  At the beginning of the project, school buses took students on a tour of the town with museum staff and volunteers providing the narration.  The buses also took everyone (volunteers and students) to their assigned historic site so that they could photograph and explore.  Many groups did interviews of people in the community,searched old newspapers for information,  and read through articles written by local historians.  They got copies of original photographs from the two museums in Lecompton.  The museum staff, Tim Rues of Constitution Hall, and Lynn Ward and Paul Bahnmaier of the Territorial Capital Museum, made sure that all of the information was accurate.

4th Grade Students at Lecompton Elementary in 2015.

4th Grade Students at Lecompton Elementary in 2015.

The students produced short (1-3 minute) videos on the history of the site they were assigned.   Students designed artwork in the shape of quilt blocks to identify their site, and put a QR code at each site so that town visitors could easily access the videos with their smartphones.

The QR codes with the students’ videos have been incorporated into the town’s walking tour.  

Making a video which will link to a QR code placed on their site.

Making a video which will link to a QR code placed on their site.

Historic Walking Tour

The walking tour with a map and scavenger hunt was printed and distributed to local businesses.  The grant Sandy received paid for the QR code signs and map printing.  Bob Treanor with Bob Treanor Design made the QR signs.

The students thanked the volunteers with letters they wrote.

The students thanked the volunteers with letters they wrote.

Volunteers watching students during an discussion session with teachers.Volunteers watching students during a discussion session with teachers.

Scavenger Hunt map

Scavenger Hunt map

 

Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunt

 

 

Finished project: a QR code next to the historic sites in Lecompton takes visitors to a video about the site.

Finished project: a QR code next to the historic sites in Lecompton takes visitors to a video about the site.

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            The project debuted in 2015 during Territorial Days, the town’s yearly June celebration when residents and visitors come to Lecompton for a parade, reenactments, festivities, and food.   Click here for Walking Tour of Lecompton with student history videos

          This year the only AASLH award presented in Kansas is to our Lecompton project.  Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2016 AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday, September 16.  Receiving the award for Lecompton will be Rev. Bob Dulin and his wife Alrutha of Detroit.  Rev. Dulin is a life member of the Lecompton Historical Society and a 1959 graduate of the Lecompton High School.

And–our 2016 project with the 4th graders turned out pretty great, too!  🙂  We were on a roll after the 2015 project, so we tried it again.  This time, the students researched famous people from Lecompton with their community volunteers.  The kids had a float in the parade during 2016 Territorial Days with information about their researched historic people.  They won first prize for their float!  Click here to learn about our 2016 4th grade project!

 

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