It was an exciting afternoon Friday at Neligh-Oakdale as the fourth-graders proudly put their family history on display for the school's annual Heritage Day.
Hundreds of people of all ages spent the afternoon looking at family photos and memorabilia brought in by the students. Longtime-time fourth-grade teacher Rick Eickholt said the program has grown extensively over the years.
"If we go back through the history of Heritage Day, about 29 years ago with our Nebraska studies we had a show and tell. We had students bring in such a wide variety of so many interesting things that we decided we had to do something more than just a regular show and tell," Eickholt said. "That was kind of the birth of what we have today with our Heritage Day program."
Eickholt said the project not only leads to questions about their family but also to instilling even more pride in their family history.
"I try to emphasize how important it is to ask questions and to learn about their family history," he said. "When the kids bring in their materials, you can see the gleam in their eye and you can see the pride when they talk about grandparents, parents, great-great-grandparents and it's just something I think they need to do to find out about what happened in the past and their family."
A common theme with nearly every students' table was a reference to a family member who served in the military.
"I think it's a lot to do with our culture here in Nebraska. We're a proud culture and we are supportive of all of our freedoms," Eickholt said. "We have generation after generation put their lives on the line to support not only our state, our country and and our beliefs. I think that's an important part of our heritage throughout our country, not just here in Neligh.
Fourth-grader Ryder Schwager said he enjoyed preparing for Heritage Day because he learned about his uncle Damien VanTassell and his service in the U.S. Air Force.
Another aspect of Heritage Day is that students and their families must work together to create an item may be historic to the state or plays a role into where it is today. Among the many items were a field with an irrigation, a replica of the Neligh Mills, Wild Bill Cody's Ranch and Chimney Rock.
Eickholt said it never ceases to amaze him with the quality of the projects every year.
"It's impossible to imagine what they're going to bring in," he said. "I give a list of possibilities. The kids have addd to the possibilities over the years. And every year I don't think they can top what the previous year did, but it seams like every year the projects get bigger and better. They're really very, very good."