Students find fame for a day
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
History was being made Friday morning, at about the same time in two different buildings, at Fort Hays State University.
At 10:42 a.m., Mirta Martin was announced as the first woman president at Fort Hays in a Kansas Board of Regents meeting at Memorial Union.
Across the campus quad, a youngster from O'Loughlin Elementary School also made history at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall.
Tom Drabkin, the youngest of three sons of Doug and Kathy Drabkin, was judged as the top performer in Hays Arts Council's Ellis County Famous Figures competition, making it a clean sweep for the Drabkin family.
Older brothers Ben and Sam also won first place in the event their fifth-grade years while posing as war lords, Ben as Julius Caesar in 2003 and Sam as Alexander the Great in 2005.
Tom, nine years younger than Sam, decided to go a different route and portrayed Mahatma Gandhi, considered the father of the Indian independence movement, who was bald in his later years.
Drabkin even shaved his head for the true effect, somewhat of a shock for people who are used to seeing the Drabkin clan with long, thick hair.
"That's because the only barber they ever had growing up was their dad," Doug Drabkin said, "and I only know how to do a bowl cut."
Six of the nine schools participating had top-five winners. Ties are not broken, so there was a two-way tie for fourth and a three-way tie for fifth.
It was the second time in three years the top prize went to an O'Loughlin participant. O'Loughlin students either have won or tied for first place eight times in the 18-year history of the Hays Arts Council event.
O'Loughin had two students finish in the top three. Olivia Rankin, O'Loughlin's alternate for the county finals, took advantage of a second chance -- schoolmate McKenna McBride was ill Friday and unable to compete -- and finished third while posing as Rosa Parks.
And Holy Family Elementary School had two top-five finishers -- Annie Wasinger as Dolores Hart, who tied for fourth, and Allison Applequist as Dr. Richard Theriault, who tied for fifth.
Other top five winners were Caitlin Leiker as Carol Burnett, from Roosevelt Elementary in Hays; Alicia Feyerherm, a homeschool student who portrayed Ruth Bader Ginsburg and tied for fourth; and Zach Schiel as Jim Valvano, Washington Elementary in Ellis, and Nic Park as Steve Irwin, Washington Elementary in Hays, who tied for fifth along with Holy Family's Applequist.
This year's county finalists for the Hays Arts Council's Famous Figures competition for fifth-graders in Ellis County are:
Holy Family, Hays -- Allison Applequist, Dr. Richard Theriault; Dustin Knoll, Albert Einstein; Anna Kuhn, Temple Grandin; Annie Wasinger, Dolores Hart.
Homeschool -- Alicia Feyerherm, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Lincoln, Hays -- Andrew Prine, Brig. Gen. John Buford.
O'Loughlin, Hays -- Alex Aldrich, Millicent Garrett Fawcett; Tom Drabkin, Mahatma Gandhi; McKenna McBride, Malala Yousalfzai; Olivia Rankin, Rosa Parks; Claire Shippy, Dolly Parton; Luke Weaver, Allen Vizuttii; Camry Young, Anne Frank.
Roosevelt, Hays -- Kile Hale, Nadia Comaneci; Caitlin Leiker, Carol Burnett; Colton Mai, Gen. George Armstrong Custer; Makinsey Schlautman, Princess Diana; Kamryn Schoenberger, Sonia Sotomayor; Sierra Smith, Florence Nightingale.
St. Mary's, Ellis -- Grace Eck, Anne Frank; Brady Frickey, Bill Self.
Victoria -- Anna Brull, Nadia Comanechi; Payden Leiker, John Wayne; Jayson Pruitt, Martin Luther King Jr.
Washington, Ellis -- Morgan Bittell, Lucy Lady Duff Gordon; Trace Patee, Michael Oher; Kaelyn Rohr, Stacy Westfall; Zach Schiel, Jim Valvano.
Washington, Hays -- Cesar Macias, Michael Jackson; Nic Park, Steve Irwin.
Wilson, Hays -- Ayden Gonzales, Elvis Presley; Dinah Phoenix, Alice Liddell; Sam Rider, John Wooden; Lauren Wagner, Anna Pavlova.