The McPherson Convention and Visitor's Bureau recently received a grant to assist in a movie production to commemorate 100 years of All Schools Day.
The grant, which totals $8,101, was obtained in November from the Kansas Humanities Council. A similar grant was used last year for the making of a documentary on the Globe Refiners basketball team. This year the film will use videos and pictures to portray the history of the longest running community celebration.
Although the details of the film are still being developed, the film will communicate the chronological history of the tradition, which began in 1914 to bring all area eighth-grade graduates together for one celebration. Historical photos and reenactments will assist in the storytelling.
As the film progresses, color photos and videos also will be integrated.
Interview-style videos from residents of all ages will be dispersed throughout the film to tell firsthand memories of events. A green screen will be used behind them to illustrate their stories. The goal is to use at least 100 of these interviews — one for each year the event has taken place.
“This is a great way to get the word out (about All Schools Day) so people can see what we’re talking about,” Anne Hassler, director of the McPherson Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said. “I don't think they (individuals from out of town) really get the scope of the parade and the tradition that goes with it.”
Mike Rausch — lifetime McPherson resident, designated All Schools Day historian and a co-chairman this year — will provide many of the historical data for the film. During the years, the 68-year-old has collected a number of memorabilia items, which are kept it in his basement.
“When you’re growing up, you don’t appreciate all the things McPherson offers until you get a little older, and you realize people prior to you had some pretty neat ideas,” he said. “(Being involved) is a way for me to return to the community the fun I had when I was a kid.”
Rausch has been involved in All Schools Day leadership since 1975, including various chairman roles, being in charge of starting the parade, and organizing concessions.
“You learn really quick that All Schools Day is a permanent part of the fabric of McPherson,” Rausch said. “We’re the only festival that I know of that honors education. And it’s still as important now as it was then.”
Although he puts countless hours into the celebration every year, Rausch said it’s worth it.
“We're doing it for the next generation, the next 100 years,” he said. “As much work as it is, if we ever stopped it, it would never get started again. I want it to continue.”
Those compiling resources for the film are still open to obtaining submissions from the public. Memorabilia can be donated by contacting the CVB at 620-241-3340.
Page 2 of 2 - Once made, the movie will be shown for free the weekend before All Schools Day at the McPherson Opera House. It will also be available for viewing online.
Photos also will be used to compile a coffee-table-style book that is expected to be completed March 1.
Organizers of the film and book hope they can effectively communicate the tradition that is so dear to McPherson's heart.
“(All Schools Day is) an example of a small town at its finest. When you have people from the community putting on an event that celebrations students,” Hassler said, “I think it probably takes about 100 years to get it down to the science that it is now.”