Hard work paid off for members of Christine Hecke and Debra Sim’s Spring Hill Middle School seventh-grade class The students earned first place in their grade level for their

Spring Hill Middle School students posed in the SHMS library after giving a talk about their My Kansas project for Kansas! Magazine to the Spring Hill Historical Society. Standing are Colin Mc Cormick, Amanda King, Mary Kate Hale, Mallory Meek, Ellisa Bragaw, Amber Dietrich, Charity Wright, Makayla Kosberg, Jared Hoston, Trey Skinner, Madison Bitner . Kneeling are Emily Simmons, Taylor McClellen, Connor Hecke File photo

writing, design, subject matter, and photography in the My Kansas! Competition. The competition is a state-wide program that challenges fifth graders and up to create a magazine full of stories, pictures, unique to their communities.
Hecke and Sim’s students compiled information about Spring Hill-area history and included stories about the tragic tornado that hit the area in 1957, Jeremiah McCanse – a former slave turned Spring Hill-community-pillar, Lone Elm Park that once served as a campground for settlers heading west and the Pottawatomie Trail of Death, which ran through the area.
Hundreds of students from across the state competed in the My Kansas! project designed to provide students with an exciting, multi-faceted enrichment project that encourages them to work as a team and uncover the assets of their community and state by producing a magazine. More than 20 Kansas schools participated for a chance to be featured in the Fall 2011 issue of Kansas! Magazine and have a PDF of their publication placed on the KansasMag.com website.
Entries were judged by the staff of Kansas! Magazine and Kansas Travel & Tourism based on the overall appearance, writing, design, subject matter, photography and artwork of the publication.
The judges selected winning teams at each grade level, including these first-place winners: Dana Bart’s Lakewood Elementary fifth-grade class in Salina; Jean Brintnall’s Hiawatha Middle School sixth-grade class in Hiawatha; and Ashley Beason’s Washburn Rural Middle School eighth-grade class in Topeka.
“The My Kansas! project was the perfect way to get my kids involved in journalistic writing, photography and design while also learning about their community and engaging in an exciting competition,” said Ashley Beason, Washburn Rural Middle School yearbook and newspaper teacher. “Several students were especially dedicated to the project and ended up comprising the magazine staff. They spent time during school and outside of school visiting different locations throughout Topeka, interviewing a great variety of Topekans, and learning all they could about our city. Their dedication and determination was amazing! I’m fortunate to have worked with such talented, driven students.”
The Kansas Travel & Tourism Division is charged with encouraging the public to visit and travel within Kansas by promoting recreational, historic and natural advantages of the state and its facilities. The Division focuses on measurable goals in all of its marketing and promotional efforts, which includes increasing domestic and international inquiries through advertising and public relations efforts and converting those inquiries into visits to Kansas, increasing group tour visits, and generating positive public perceptions about the state as a travel destination.