Prairie 5th grader selected from hundreds of Shawnee Mission students to read ‘American Heroes’ essay

The all-district choir performed patriotic tunes at the Celebrate American Heroes program Friday.
The all-district choir performed patriotic tunes at the Celebrate American Heroes program Friday.

Prairie's Olivia Zender was the featured essayist. Photo via SMSD.
Prairie’s Olivia Zender was the featured essayist. Photo via SMSD.
Prairie Elementary fifth grader Olivia Zender was the featured essayist at this year’s Shawnee Mission Celebrate American Heroes program last week.

Hundreds of students and parents gathered for the 26th annual event at Apache Elementary Friday, where fifth graders shared their passion for the ground-breaking Americans they’ve been studying the past several months. Zender wrote her essay about Ruby Bridges, the first African American child to attend an all-white Southern elementary. She was selected from among hundreds of district fifth graders to read her essay live before the Apache audience and hundreds more who watched via a district telecast.

The assembly also featured performances by an all-district choir, made up of students from every Shawnee Mission elementary, and historical reenactors portraying Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln.