July 21, 2001
AMERICAN OVERSEAS SCHOOL HISTORICAL PARK & ARCHIVES SITE DEDICATED IN WICHITA, KANSAS
WICHITA, KANSAS –An audience of more than 900 current and former overseas schools educators, alumni and Wichita residents witnessed the dedication of the future building site for the American Overseas Schools Historical Park, Archives and Museum in the Museums on the River District in Wichita today.
Located on the banks of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers between the Wichita Art Museum and the Mid-America All Indian Center and Museum, the dedication of the five plus acre building site was yet another step toward the construction of a four building complex. The facilities will include a landscaped historical park with a visitor’s center, archives, museum, auditorium and memorials of overseas schools, alumni associations, educators and students.
Wichita District 6 City Council Member Sharon Fearey welcomed the Historical Park and Museum to Wichita in her statement,” Wichita is honored to become the home for so many memories from people who have attended American Overseas Schools. It is truly an honor to have such a celebrated and meaningful addition to our museum district.”
The Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, Dr. Joseph Tofoya commented at the ceremony, “Those of us who provide education to American students overseas owe a great debt of gratitude to the dedicated people on the American Overseas Schools Historical Society’s Board of Directors for creating a home for us, our memories, and for the records generated by the devoted service and professionalism that have come to characterize teaching abroad.” Additionally, Dr. Tafoya added, “If the very creation of an official archives was a feat, the establishment of a permanent repository for our historical documents is a nearly miraculous accomplishment,” added Tofoya.
The City of Wichita as the hometown of the archives was recognized by Dr. Thomas Drysdale, president of the American Overseas Schools Historical Society in his remarks, ” How fortunate it is for all of us to be gathered here today in Wichita, Kansas. Wichita, three times selected as an All-American Model City, at the beginning of a new century and millennium. “Dr. Drysdale went on to dedicate the building site, “We are here to dedicate this site on the banks of the Arkansas River to past, current, and future American children and youth who have been, and will be educated abroad. It is also dedicated to their teachers, both American and foreign, recognized by the US Departments of Defense and State as ‘Unofficial American Ambassadors’ advancing democracy and freedom around the world. “Drysdale continued, “Regardless of what evolves on this site in the Central USA during the next century and millennium, this dedication will be recorded as an important happening recognizing the unique history of the overseas education of millions of American children and youth from every state and territory in the union.”
The former Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, Dr. John Stremple commented, “Peace keeping is the main mission of our overseas military. Teachers and administrators who have served and continue to serve the children of our service men and woman can take a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that their presence in foreign lands contributes significantly to this mission. Their dedication to and modeling of the principles upon which our country was founded serves as a guide to those who long for the American way. Their contribution to the overseas mission deserves to be memorialized, let us all rejoice in today’s event.”
Other special guests in attendance at the site dedication included: U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt; Dr. Eugene Huges, President Emeritus, Wichita State University; and Colonel Ronald Ladnier, Commander, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force base.
The American Overseas Schools Archives (AOSA) was first established on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 1989. The AOSA is dedicated to preserving the history and memorabilia of the kindergarten through grade 12 education of more than 4 million American children who attended more than 2,400 American overseas schools over the past 150 years. Currently more than 50,000 pounds of memorabilia and historical records are housed in a temporary building at 539 South Waters Street in Wichita. The archives are presently open by appointment only pending construction of the permanent facilities.