For the past few weeks, students at Wichita's Bryant Core Knowledge Magnet have been practicing a cheer:
Are hard to beat."
Today, they will stand, jump and yell.
Because it is Kansas Day, the 149th anniversary of when Kansas was accepted into the Union as the 34th state. It's been a tradition for more than a century for Kansans to celebrate statehood.
There are various celebrations this weekend. But most people acknowledge the biggest celebrations will be saved for next year.
"I compare celebrating the 150th anniversary to something like when a kid gets the Sears catalog in the mail in the summertime and starts looking and anticipating Christmas. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger," said Orin Friesen at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper near Benton.
The state, facing budget shortfalls, does not plan to sponsor a big celebration. Rather, the Kansas Governor's Cultural Affairs Council plans to help promote what it calls grassroots celebrations statewide.
The state travel and tourism department plans to unveil a Web site of sesquicentennial events this spring.
The Kansas Humanities Council has put together a statehood speakers bureau commemorating the birthday. The 71 presentations are available today through December 31, 2011.
They explore both the popular and little known aspects of the state's history and culture, including cuisine, prehistoric oceans, lunch counter sit-ins and folk art.
"Our speakers present topics about Kansas — our hopes, dreams and significant individuals and landscapes," said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the humanities council. "They will be available for organizations to use as they prepare for the sesquicentennial."
Mulvihill said she envisions the events for the state's celebrations over the next two years to be like a "potluck dinner."
"Commemorating the anniversary is just a good way to stop and think about the past and invite ideas about the future," Mulvihill said. "I compare this to a potluck in where everybody brings a dish to the table and you walk away with a sense of knowing how it can work."
Some Kansans were hoping the state could do more to plan and celebrate the anniversary, said Roger Ringer, a cowboy poet and singer and an owner in the Bunkhouse At Wildfire Ranch near Medicine Lodge. He is working on a 150th anniversary concert project featuring Kansas artists.
Ringer and Friesen say it's tough building interest and momentum in the 150th celebration without more state support.
"We are pretty much on our own for a grassroots kind of thing," Friesen said. "But I've begun to look at it as the more the merrier. I'd love to see everybody involved — such as at the Kansas State Fair, the River Festival or even aviation festival."
Many Kansans want to celebrate the state's legacy, said Marci Penner director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, which promotes rural culture.
"It's all about a sense of place," Penner said. "People who know Kansas want to celebrate it. They are invested in it, explore it and make choices about where they shop. Kansas is different from Nebraska, Rhode Island and California. I think we need to know how our state is different and unique."
Part of the state's legacy will be connected to Paola — the first place to officially observe Kansas Day.
In 1877, LeGrande Alexander Copley became the first teacher to make Kansas history come alive for his students. The Paola teacher set aside an hour for two weeks each year for his classroom to gather information about Kansas.
As the years went by, other schools began observing Kansas Day as well.
On Jan. 29, 2003, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a proclamation recognizing Paola as the birthplace of Kansas Day.
And, on Saturday, Paola will once again have a communitywide celebration at the town's National Guard Armory to celebrate the state.
"We are proud of it," said Carol Everhart director of the Paola Chamber of Commerce. "Kansas Day started here and it celebrates everything about Kansas — the history, the country, the native way of life. It is appreciation for a wonderful state."
Although no definite plans have yet been made for next year's celebration, Everhart said, "There is no doubt we will be celebrating it."