Below are ramblings on attending schools in Abilene prompted by the recognition of American Education Week which is Nov. 18 through 22:
• Kindergarten at McKinley
What sticks in my mind about kindergarten is the spring pony that was in the center of the courtyard which is now where the library sits.
We also took a blanket so that we could take our naps.
• St. Andrew’s from first grade to sixth grade
Our class consisted of about four girls and the rest guys. Talk about fighting for girlfriends.
I was in the fourth or fifth grade and we were given a take-home math test. My older brother J.D. took the test for me.
I got them all wrong.
• Abilene Junior High School
Located where Frontier Estates sits now, the school looked huge to this little seventh grader.
Some of the teachers proudly displayed their paddles on the wall. Some even had holes in them to get a better swat.
Fortunately, I was never told to bend over and grab my ankles.
I would say I struggled in junior high. I can’t blame St. Andrew’s because all of my other classmates from there were straight “A” students.
It was difficult for me to maintain the “C” needed so I could participate in basketball games and go to golf tournaments.
I tried out for the football team where I probably suffered my first concussion.
We practiced basketball in the junior high gymnasium but walked down to the city building to play our games as it was so much bigger.
Yes, we had a golf team for the seventh and eighth graders. While those students didn’t claim any state titles, they won several NCKL and regional championships and placed as high as third in the state tournaments which were held over two days. It was tough for Abilene to compete with the private schools like Hayden and Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
Junior high is when teachers drilled into my head my career path by saying “you are going to work with your hands.”
• Abilene High School
Because of that prophesy of manual labor and taking courses in welding, electrical and woodworking, I made the honor roll in high school.
Somehow I ended up in a journalism class.
There may be some truth to the rumor that Dale Pyke, a fellow golfer, was recruiting for beginning journalism, calling it “an easy A.”
Teacher Janelle Cowen became an important person in my education and my life’s direction.
Somewhere I have a journalism award from the Wichita Eagle-Beacon. She and I made the trip to Wichita so I could accept it.
One could say that today I do work with my hands by typing and taking pictures. Certainly, my wife Kathy tells me “put your hands down” while I am talking.
But my highest claim to high school fame was inventing the large cookie. In Bachelor Class the assignment was to bake cookies.
Instead of making the normal 2 inch diameter cookies, my team made ours 4 to 5 inches wide.
Our mistake was not applying for a patent for that creation.
• Kansas State University
To get a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, one had to be a junior before being published in the Collegian.
But my sophomore year I wrote my first column which was published. That same year I wrote a second column, which was not only published but was on display at the library for several years.
When it comes to the education of students, we grew up with the three Rs: readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic. Today they focus on STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
But often the greatest impact on the education of a student comes from outside of the classroom. Relationships with bus drivers, cooks, custodians, school secretaries, coaches and other support personnel are just as important. Take a moment to remember someone who made an impact in your life during American Education Week.