Author Wendell Barry once said, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”
Centre, Goessel, Marion, and Peabody-Burns students are being given the opportunity to learn more about the special environment in which they live, namely the Flint Hills. This area extends into Marion County and is said to be the last expanse of tallgrass prairie in the country.
Each school in all four districts recently received a museum-quality Flint Hills map from Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. The 48-inch-by-48-inch wall-mounted exhibit was provided to 180 schools in the Flint Hills.
The first-of-its-kind map is intended “to deepen students’ knowledge, pride, and understanding of their special place in the world — the Flint Hills,” the website, flinthills-discovery.org/map, states.
Each map comes with a custom-placed “You are Here” arrow pointing to the school’s location.
The map also features a web address where teachers can access learning activities about the Flint Hills region.
Administrator John Fast at Goessel Elementary School said the map will be used mainly for the upper elementary grades and will fit well with the outdoor wildlife-learning center at the school. It hangs near the front entrance in a glass case.
Fast said dedication programs are being planned at the elementary school and junior high/high school.
At Peabody-Burns Elementary School, the map hangs in the entryway, where students gather before going to class.
“It’s fun to watch the kids look at the map, noticing various features and tracing their fingers along the rivers,” principal’s assistant Kathy Preheim said.
Peabody-Burns Junior/Senior High School also has a Flint Hills map.
Preheim said teachers will undergo training Jan. 3 on how to use the map and its website resources in their classrooms. The discovery center provides training along with the map, if requested.
Marion Middle/High School principal Todd Gordon said each of the schools has its own map, but the larger map is in the middle school, where it will fit best into the curriculum.
The map hangs in a hallway off the foyer at Centre school, where students can see it as they walk by on their way to class.
The maps were provided free of charge by numerous foundations, businesses, and individuals who “have a passion for the prairie and education,” program director Emily Hunter Connell said.