Prairie Rebuilds

Silhouette of the 1936 building stenciled on a brick from the building.

Amidst the loss that accompanied the fire, Prairie hit a high note and was chosen as an “Award of Excellence” winner by the Kansas PTA. Gloria Barnhart, KS PTA President stated, “The innovative, creative projects and volunteer programs are commendable. By working together and uniting for the success of all children, Prairie PTA is truly making a difference in the school and community.” “The open communication, support and parental involvement at Prairie are positive results of the PTA’s efforts and leadership. This is an example of PTA work at its best.”

To qualify for an award, a school PTA must demonstrate clearly-defined goals, sponsor programs that encourage parent involvement, advocate for children, link with state and national PTA, communicate effectively, work with the school and community and strive to be inclusive.

After the 1990 fire, members of PTA declared a history project should be taken on, since the new building would offer no visual representation of Prairie’s rich history.

The grant application was written by Prairie and its PTA. A committee was generated consisting of a team of professional and volunteer researchers who worked to compile artifacts and school timeline info. Cynthia A. Robinson headed up this Heritage Committee, and led the charge to gather historical donations and coordinated former student and staff interviews. This research process took three years to complete and the finished timeline opened to the public on May 4th, 1994.

Prairie’s new building was dedicated Sunday, September 26, 1993. The theme, “Building on tradition,” was appropriate as it reflected Prairie’s history, more than a century old. The dedication program included video presentations, musical performances by Prairie students and remarks by Shawnee Mission Superintendent, Marjorie Kaplan, School Board President, Nancy Gebhardt and Principal, Joy Torgerson.

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1993, November 17: Scott, Laurie J. “Committee searches for Prairie School artifacts.” The Kansas City Star. C-2

1993, September 22: Scott, Laurie J. “It’s time to dedicate Prairie.” The Kansas City Star. p. C-2

1994, May 4: Bessier, Elanie. “A Celebration of Prairie School.” The Sun Newspapers. p. 6A