June 23, 2009
Country School was awarded a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council, which provided us with partial funding to document one-room schools and their stories in the sunflower state.
Our first stop was Lanesfield School Historic Site in Edgerton, Kansas to shoot the beautifully restored 1869 one-room schoolhouse.
We decided early in the project to capture country schools in all settings, seasons and weather. Here we were in the peak of summer and it was already hot this bright June morning! After an hour of capturing interiors and exteriors, it was a relief to move into the visitor's center to do an interview with site manager Stephanie Clayton. She was a wealth of information about the history of Lanesfield and the one-room school in Kansas.
After rehydrating ourselves, we were back on the road headed to Osage County.
The temperature rose by the time we arrived near the small town of Lebo, Kansas where a group of former students of Arvonia School gathered under the lone tree offering shade. Behind them in an open field stood their beloved one-room school, waiting to be saved.
The heat didn't seem to phase them as we captured their memories and wiped sweat from our red faces. Scrapbooks, old photographs and a prized blueprint of Arvonia Schoolhouse were spread across the hood of a car and discussions about preservation began. This is how dreams become reality.
As we packed our sunburned bodies into the car and pointed it in the direction of Emporia we reflected on our first day spent traveling Kansas country roads, traipsing through sun-baked fields and documenting why this simple structure still draws people together and unifies them in a mission of preservation. We felt inspired! Until... we stopped for gas and heard the clerk announce, "It was almost 110 out there today!"