Palmyra Elementary School students receive coloring books celebrating bicentennial events

When Palmyra Mayor Loren Graham told students at Palmyra Elementary School that their city was 200 years old this year, dozens of children said “wow” in unison.

Graham and fellow Bicentennial Committee members brought a surprise for each student — a bicentennial coloring book titled “Paws the Panther Explores Palmyra, Missouri.”

Each student received their own coloring book reflecting the Flower City's history, funded by Raj and Pina Kshirsagar and featuring artwork by Bill Beard. Throughout the book, the central character, Paws the Panther, visits Palmyra historic city landmarks like the Marion County Courthouse, the Gardner House — which served as a stagecoach stop — and the old Marion County Jail. The book came to reality from a list of ideas formed last year by students in Ellen Stuhlman's PACE class at Palmyra Middle School.

Palmyra Middle School PACE Teacher Ellen Stuhlman told the students how her PACE students came up with almost 200 years last year to celebrate the bicentennial. The students came up with another list of historic details and images that would be fun for children, and Stuhlman said Beard used several of those ideas as he created the artwork.

“You never know when a great idea will become something wonderful,” she said. “So keep those ideas coming all the time.”

Graham held a book up to show students various pictures that each tell stories about the City's history.

“Two-hundred years ago, Palmyra became a city,” Graham told the students. “Our country is 243 years old, so the United States was only 43 years old when Palmyra started.”

Bicentennial Committee members visited Jenny Manzke's second grade class after they handed out books in the gymnasium.

Gentry Moon expressed her feelings of surprise when she received her coloring book with her classmates.

“I didn't even know Palmyra was that old,” she said. “This is really cool. I like knowledge and stuff.”

Pina Kshirsagar and Bicentennial Committee member Teresa Smyser agreed that it is important to share the bicentennial celebration and the city's history with the community's children.

“Kids are our country's future,” she said. “I want to treat them right.”

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com