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SPOTLIGHT
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Library brings pipe band to town for St. Patrick's celebration

Published on -3/13/2013, 9:56 AM

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St. Patrick's Day is to Rolla, Mo., what Oktoberfest is to Hays. Growing up in St. James, Mo., Rolla is the only town with a Walmart and a university for miles around.

Sound familiar? The medium-sized university, Missouri University of Science and Technology, is known throughout the country as a premier school for engineers. With nine academic departments dedicated to engineering and a pick-ax bearing "miner" mascot, it's no surprise MS&T rallies around St. Patrick, patron saint of engineers.

Regardless of religion or ethnicity, MS&T students flock to St. Patrick. A statue of the saint stands near the center of the campus and students hoping for a little extra help on an exam routinely touch the statue for good luck. Much of the Greek and student life on campus throughout the year is dedicated to preparing for St. Patrick's Day. Along with green beer and parties, there's an annual gathering of alumni, a two-hour parade in which freshman fraternity members carry hand-crafted shillelaghs, and the annual "crowning" of St. Patrick.

Being raised next-door to this ruckus, which has been going on since 1908, and being one-quarter Irish, I cannot help but get excited about Sunday. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, the library will be hosting the city of McPherson Pipe Band, a bagpipe ensemble that will feature three pipers and two drummers playing a variety of Celtic music. The concert will be held in the Adult Department Gallery, on the main floor of the library, at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Every day, I drive past a uniquely Irish landmark on Fort Street. Outside the now deserted Kennedy Middle School stands a limestone monument that reads "Irish Pride" and is emblazoned with a clover. Kennedy Middle School was formerly known as Jefferson West. In 1969, the school was renamed in honor of late President Kennedy, who had spoken on-site in 1960 while still a U.S. senator. The first Irish-American to hold the office of president, it's no coincidence Kennedy Middle School would take an Irishman as its mascot. The history of Kennedy Middle School as recorded by John Allen Jr. is on display in the Kansas Room.

While Hays and Ellis County are often associated with Volga-Germans, the Kansas Room has genealogical resources for helping people of all ancestries. For example, the Kansas Room has guidebooks for helping individuals trace their Irish lineage as well as passenger lists for immigrant ships from Ireland. The Kansas Room also has a subscription to Ancestry.com, which can help anyone piece together his or her family tree. Come in, and check it out.

In other news, to officially welcome spring, I will be hosting a second, punch-themed Kansas Cooks event at 6 p.m. March 27 in the Kansas Room. For this Kansas Cooks event, please bring a gallon of your favorite (alcohol-free) punch and a copy of your recipe. Participants will be able to sample the different drink mixtures and copy down the recipes they like the best. Good punch recipes are hard to find, so the more people we have participate, the better off we'll all be.

Lucia Flaim is Kansas Room Librarian at the Hays Public Library.

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