Purchase photos

Picnic brings out Tiger spirit





Kelsee Hirsch was one of many Fort Hays State University students sporting some sort of black-and-gold shirt at Monday's back-to-school picnic in the quad.

It's a color combination she's gotten used to during her lifetime. Hirsch's family has "10 to 15 graduates" from Fort Hays, including her mom, Sheryl Rogers, as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins.

A senior nursing student from McCracken, Hirsch is well on her way to being in that club, too.

She will get there with some scholarship help, including the Tiger Generational Scholarship that provides financial assistance to descendants of FHSU graduates.

That scholarship project -- which featured the sale of gold FHSU T-shirts -- raised nearly $12,000 in its inaugural year.

That, coupled with funds raised from the sale of state of Kansas Tiger tags, resulted in the awarding of 15 scholarships to students of Fort Hays graduates for the 2012-13 school year.

"It's always a good cushion," Hirsch said of her $500 scholarship.

Hirsch manned the FHSU Alumni Association booth Monday as students, staff and community members browsed the grounds after their picnic supper, following the first day of classes.

The sale of T-shirts will continue throughout the school year at various Tiger events, alumni get-togethers and through the alumni office and online at goforthaysstate.com/theshirt.

Debra Prideaux, director of the alumni association, is hoping to get the scholarship endowed during the next three years to make the scholarships available for generations to come.

"We give out so many scholarships from our T-shirt sales," she said, "then the balance goes toward the endowed scholarship. So hopefully this will last forever."

The quad was full of tables featuring various campus organizations that were giving out information and other attractions to lure onlookers to their tables such as candy, knapsacks, pens and magnets.

Large poster boards, such as the one at the Circle K booth, also drew visitors to the many tables.

A second look from passersby was all Melissa Lopez needed to start a conversation.

Lopez, a sophomore biology major from Garden City, is willing to tell anyone who will listen the benefits of being involved on campus during college.

"I was looking for a smaller environment, and Fort Hays had the homey feeling I had in Garden," she said. "When I came for a visit, everyone was really friendly, and I felt comfortable right away."

Once on campus, Lopez got involved immediately and now is president of the Circle K Club, the collegiate arm of the civic Kiwanis Club that promotes leadership, fellowship and service.

Garden City had the high school version of Circle K, which is called Key Club, so she was familiar with the organization even though she was involved elsewhere during her high school career.

"I heard about Key Club in high school, but I was involved with FCCLA, which does a lot of the same service-types things," she said. "Once I got here last year, I was interested in doing service, and when I heard about (Circle K), I knew I wanted to be involved."