Sixth-graders learn about local history




Sebastian Moreno says he likes learning about the people and stories that came before us.

What intrigues the 12 year old most about southwest Kansas history is the Windsor Hotel.

For the first time Wednesday, Moreno got to tour the inside of the hotel. He and other sixth-graders from Bernadine Sitts Intermediate Center toured the Finney County Museum, old schoolhouse, Finnup Conservation Center and the Windsor Hotel.

The program was part of the museum's educational department. During 2012, a total of 6,853 people participated in some form of educational activity offered by the museum, according to museum documents.

Moreno and friend Jordan Guebara, 12, another sixth-grader, said they had visited the museum before Wednesday.

"We've come just for fun," Guebara said.

"My family comes in here sometimes when we're at the zoo," Moreno said.

Moreno said he enjoyed the exhibits at the museum on Wednesday.

"I like how they have all of the stuff from a long time ago," Moreno said.

He said the agriculture exhibit shows how people had to do more physical work.

"It shows that it was more work back then," he said.

What Moreno likes about the Windsor is the fact that the old building still stands.

"It's really cool how it's really old and they haven't knocked it down," he said.

Before the visit Wednesday, Moreno said he was excited about seeing the interior.

"I'm really excited to see how old it is and how it looks inside," he said.

Johnetta Heberlee, Finney County Museum education coordinator, led the tour of the museum Wednesday.

"When Kansas first became a state, this area had buffalo, wild horses and water, believe it or not. The Arkansas River was two miles wide," she said.

She showed the new Mexican heritage exhibit, the southwest Kansas history room, Windsor Hotel room exhibit and agriculture history exhibit.

Steve Quakenbush, executive director, said the museum hosts several educational field trips per year. Many are groups from local schools, including Garden City and Holcomb. Others come from southwest Kansas. Some classes visit from eastern Colorado and the Oklahoma panhandle as well.

"It's part of our educational outreach program. This is the idea that the museum isn't just a place to store artifacts. It's a place to come visit," he said.

In addition to students visiting the museum, Heberlee often visits classrooms for educational presentations.

"Education is a big part of what we do. We're also an exhibition center, research library, gift store, archives and resource for community information," she said.

Quakenbush said the purpose of the visits are to spark students' interests in southwest Kansas history.

"Our mission is to preserve the past in order to enlighten the future," he said.

The Finney County Museum, 403 S. Fourth St., is open 1 to 5 p.m. daily until Memorial Day. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information about services and programs, call 272-3664.

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