Faron Wahl, Manager
Of the various traditions at Prairie Village, one of the least known to many is our school tour program. It’s been happening for so many years now that we learn of parents reminiscing their years-ago experience with us as their own offspring travel here a generation later.
Just over a week ago we completed this year’s school tours, with a couple of summer program groups wrapping up our calendar. We had an amazing season on the school front; tours scheduled this year included more than 1700 kids. That’s a lot of young footprints crisscrossing the grounds, taking in historical perspective here at the Village.
This process all starts back in mid-winter, with letters going out to roughly 240 administrators – inviting them to consider the experience we can offer their students come spring. Not long thereafter, we start hearing from teachers looking to book something truly great for their classes once the snow is gone and the days are warmer.
This year, the first group was on the grounds two days after our season opened. From then on we juggled anywhere between one and five groups per day, an average of three days per week, throughout the rest of May and early June. Summer programs finished the schedule out in late June and mid-July.
Consider the offering: For three dollars per student, every kid arriving as part of a school tour gets a day of admission to three dimensional history at the Village, as well as one carousel ride and a train ride. Teachers self-guide their group through our historic buildings, adjusting the pace as appropriate for their students’ comprehension level and according to what fits their current course of study. They typically picnic on the grounds, and often schedule time to buy a snack or souvenir in our gift shop.
What’s not to love about such a cool field trip? Tons of history, fun new experiences, maybe a take-home token, and all done out in the South Dakota fresh air. This is truly an added bonus, as the kids burn off energy the entire time they’re here. I know it matters, because I hear about this from teachers regularly.
And to really top off the experience, during many of the tours a volunteer from the Retired Teachers’ Association takes up station for a couple of hours in our Hyland School. Kids walk in and are surprised to find a living teacher in the building, especially when she invites them to sit down in the desks and hear about what school was really like in that humble little structure. The kids love it, but many of the touring teachers who leave the building are most deeply affected. I hear them comment frequently how impacting it is to listen to such perspective as a current day educator.
On a different note, if you haven’t purchased your tickets yet for Saturday’s concert in the Opera House, give us a call at 256-3644 and get your seats. It will be a fun night of entertainment with Nashville recording artist Doug Allen Nash and RFD-TV star Penny Gilley, the “Sweetheart of Country Music”. They’ll put on shows at 7:00 and 9:00, performing music of Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Johnny and June Carter Cash, Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley and others, all in the air conditioned comfort of the historic Lawrence Welk Opera House.
We hope you’ll join us this weekend!