Ronan students serve as
Montana Heritage Project Ambassadors
to the Library of Congress

Four Ronan High School freshmen, Jenna Rody, Jessa Aipperspach, Lindsey Cornelius, and Briana Malmquist, along with their teacher, Christa Umphrey, traveled to Washington, D.C. to present the research they and their classmates collected about life in the Mission Valley to James Billington, Librarian of Congress.

Christa Umphrey's freshman English class researched aspects of cultural life on the Flathead Reservation for their project, Glimpses of the Mission Valley. The project focused on contemporary life in the valley. It included a myriad of topics, from the annual bison roundup at the National Bison Range to the history and future of Mission Valley Speedway. Students wrote about topics such as current agricultural practices, life as a volunteer firefighter, homecoming, notable individuals, beading, the local mortuary, and many others. It was a pretty comprehensive project.
Students had worked hard on their presentation, which included a comprehensive overview of the work done in Ronan along with more detailed examples of their own research. Dr. Billington (left) asked pointed questions, and the students were poised and gave articulate answers.

The audience included Dr. Billington; Peggy Bulger, Director of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress; Peter Bartis, Senior Program Officer for the Folklife Center's Veterans' History Project; Paddy Bowman, Coordinator for the National Network for Folk Arts in Education; Amy Astin, Legislative Assistant for Congressman Dennis Rehberg; Zoya Naskova, Domestic Education Officer for the School Connectivity Project; and several other people from the Library of Congress.

The group poses on the balcony of Dr. Billington's office. From left, Peggy Bulger, Jenna Rody, Lindsey Cornelius, James Billington, Briana Malmquist, Jessa Aipperspach, and Christa Umphrey. Christa Umphrey explains the work her students did in Ronan to Dr. Billington while Jessa looks on.
Library of Congress staff treat Heritage Project students like important visitors when they visit the Library. Above, Jim Flatness of the Library's Geography and Maps Division, shows Christa and her students one of Ptolemy's Geographia, a book of hand painted maps that dates from 1507. Ptolemy was a second century Greek scholar and his Geographia was the first and most popular cartographic publication to be printed from movable type in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Peter Bartis, Senior Program Officer for the Folklife Center's Veterans' History Project, has been an integral part of the Montana Heritage Project since it began ten years ago. He was involved in writing the original proposal for the Project and since then, is the person that sets up the students' visits to Washington, D.C. He's shown above with Jessa, Jenna, and Lindsey who are looking at historical maps of their hometown, Ronan, Montana.
Students who travel to Washington, D.C. as ambassadors from the Montana Heritage Project usually meet with a member of Montana's Congressional Delegation. This year they met with Senator Conrad Burns. At left, Lindsey Cornelius presents a copy of the presentation script to Senator Burns in his office while Briana and Jessa look on.
The trip wasn't all work. The group toured Washington, D.C.'s many museums, monuments, and landmarks. Top, Nellie Paolini (in pink), an intern in Senator Burns' office, gives the students a tour of the United States Capitol. Bottom, Jessa writes about some of her impressions of the sites she's seen. Jenna, Briana, Jessa, and Lindsey pose in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Lindsey reads Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address at the Lincoln Memorial. Lindsey and Jessa are reflected in the wall of the Korean War Memorial.
The city offers many opportunities for a group of students from rural Montana. A thirsty Lindsey seems to think she can get a drink from the fountain of Neptune's Plaza in front of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.


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