A couple of weeks ago, The Gardner News challenged several fifth, sixth and seventh grade classes to compose essays using the theme “I’m proud to be a Kansan”.  On page five of our newspaper you will find their works.  As our state celebrates its sesquicentennial tomorrow, we can’t think of a more appropriate topic.
The school children really hit the nail on the head with their astute observations, pointing out many of our great state’s attributes. Our staff members, largely comprised of native Kansans, have a few ideas of their own about what makes Kansas an ideal place to live.
Kansans are hearty people.  As the students pointed out, we have great variations in weather – from the four foot snow drifts in January to 104 degree July days – we take them all in stride. The Sunflower State features beautiful prairie landscapes, robust rural communities and bustling cities, as local kids noted.
Kansans are neighborly, friendly, personable and helpful people. As one student pointed out in her essay, when tragedy recently struck in our community, we pulled together, leaning on one another for support.  We believe this is indicative of people across our state who know that even in tough times, together, we can get through anything.
Kansans are generous of their time and talents. When one of our staff members suffered an unexpected hospitalization the outpouring of support from the community was overwhelming.  The casserole brigade kept the family stocked with meals so that they could concentrate on healing.  The flowers arrived.  And arrived.  And arrived. There was never a shortage of neighbors asking how they could help.
Kansans are innovative, ground breaking, hard working and pragmatic people.  We offer Walter Chrysler, of Ellis, Kan., as an example. Chrysler started as a mechanic, working his way up the ranks of the railroad to become manager of the Allegheny locomotive erecting shops. He then became the manager in charge of production for Buick. After making his way by turning around several other auto manufacturers, Chrysler started his own firm under his name and built the Plymouth and DeSoto brands, and he acquired the Dodge label.
Chrysler is but a small reprentation of the Kansas population – we count many trailblazers among our citizenry.
Kansas boasts the geographic center of the United States, and its people may be the heart of our great nation.
Sometimes it seems as though Kansas is this big, wonderful secret that we keep to ourselves, hiding it away from the rest of the country. 150 years of the Sunflower State has given us pause to think about the wonders and majesty of Kansas – but the secret might just rest with the people who live here.