• History essayists honored at Museum Night

  • The Friends of the Frontier Army Museum awarded its fourth annual essay contest scholarships to three high school students during its Museum Night May 14 at the Frontier Army Museum.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The Friends of the Frontier Army Museum awarded its fourth annual essay contest scholarships to three high school students during its Museum Night May 14 at the Frontier Army Museum.
    “It is just a way to get the youth involved in the museum history,” said Stephanie Hixson, FFAM vice president.
    This year the 13 applicants had to write a 1,000- to 1,500-word essay about a historical monument, building or landmark on Fort Leavenworth that is named after someone and explain his or her association with Fort Leavenworth. A panel of four judges evaluated the essays on four traits — focus and details; organization; sentence structure, grammar, mechanics and spelling; and research and bibliography.
    Leavenworth High School sophomore Sisi Wang took home the top prize of $1,000.
    “I’m new to Fort Leavenworth as of this schoolyear, so I really wanted to push myself and do the best that I can,” Wang said. “I’m really thankful and happy that I won.”
    Wang wrote about Lt. Col. Irene Blochberger, the namesake of Blochberger Terrace, which is at the corner of Biddle Boulevard and Kearny Avenue near Munson Army Health Center. Blochberger served as an Army nurse during World War II.
    “(Near MAHC) serves as the perfect location to commemorate her service as a nurse in the United States Army,” Wang wrote in her essay, which she read for Museum Night attendees. “The namesakes of Fort Leavenworth showcase a diverse ensemble of heroes; however, like Irene Blochberger, many remain unacknowledged despite their considerable achievements. Saluting the courageous acts of Blochberger is a great step forward to raise awareness for women, African-Americans, Native Americans and other lesser recognized groups that have significantly contributed to the fort’s rich history,” the essay concluded.
    Wang said it was hard to choose a topic for her essay, and she expected to pick someone more well known before she found Blochberger.
    “It really made me realize that there are so many unsung heroes that aren’t really celebrated in Fort Leavenworth, so I feel like it is our duty to tell the stories of the people,” she said.
    The second-place prize of $500 went to LHS senior Rhiannon Brookshire.
    “It is pretty exciting,” Brookshire said. “I’ve always enjoyed writing, so it is just exciting to know I’m a good writer outside of my own brain.”
    Brookshire wrote about Elizabeth Marsh Schenck Smith, namesake of Elizabeth M.S. Smith Hall, 510 Organ Ave., which was built in 1901. Smith founded the Fort Leavenworth Women’s Club — now the Fort Leavenworth Spouses Club — in 1920.
    “I noted that a lot of the monuments on post were about male figures,” Brookshire said of her early research. “Not to take away from their contributions to the post or the military, but I wanted to challenge myself and pick a female person to write about. She was one of the very few.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Brookshire’s mother Melanie Brookshire said it was fitting for her daughter to write about a female military figure because Rhiannon attended basic training the summer of 2018 and will attend Advanced Individual Training this summer.
    “She’s also a bit of a history buff,” Melanie Brookshire said. “She’s always been fascinated with history.”
    Brookshire said she plans to attend the University of Kansas in the fall and study biology and intends to put the money toward her expenses.
    The third-place prize of $250 went to LHS freshman Audrey Tucker.
    For more information about the FFAM essay contest, visit www.ffam.us/essay-contest.html.
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