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2005 Graduate – Jessica Larsen


Jessica LarsenThe city of Kechi is located in Sedgwick County approximately 3 miles north of the Wichita city limits. In the 1800’s the area which is now Kechi was a camping place for a band of Indians known as the Kichai (Kechi) tribe. They had come north with the Wichitas, fleeing from Oklahoma during the Civil War in 1863. About 5 years later these Indians returned south and later were absorbed into the Wichita tribe through intermarriage. Their name, which can be translated as “walking in wet sand,” or as the Pawnees said “water turtle”, remained. The Kechi site was also a stopover point for cowboys on the Chisholm Trail bound for Abilene, particularly during the period of 1866-1868.

Kechi received a boost in 1888 when the Rock Island Railroad line was completed past the town and a station built. With more traffic through town a hotel was needed and a structure built by Arthur Guest 1 mile north was moved to Kechi. It became known as the “Guest House,” a common practice in small towns of that period. The first post office was constructed in 1892. Other businesses included assorted stores, a lumberyard, an elevator, a blacksmith shop, and a bank. The village served as a central place—providing goods and services to its citizens and the surrounding farm population and buying the agricultural produce of the immediate surrounding area. During the period of 1900-1910 the town grew rapidly and Dr. Roy Fisher, a strong supporter of Kechi, “boomed” the town, encouraging people to come build and settle in the community.

With the coming of the automobile it was hoped that Kechi would increase in population. However, in the early 1920’s a new brick road (now U. S. 81) was completed to Wichita. Villagers and farmers alike’ found more attractions in Wichita and it became easy to get there. The depot and hotel closed. Having lost the position of central place, Kechi began to deteriorate as was common with small towns in similar circumstances during that time period.

Kechi lagged for several years, but some citizens stayed to maintain a stable community. Though children now attend school in Wichita; in 1953 a modern school building was built. Having remained on its original site, in 1957 Kechi was incorporated as a third class city. Kechi continues to grow in a north and westerly direction from the Rock Island Pacific tracks. With further improvements to come, such as a new city hall building and the modernization and improvement of city services, and with Wichita growth continuing to move in Kechi’s direction, Kechi shows evidence of remaining a thriving and vital community.

Please meet another strong member of this small but vital community. This is Miss Jessica Larsen. Jessica is a 28 year old mother of two. Jessica has always been a strong, independent type. Her desire for independence was meet with some opposition from the administrators of her high school. It appears that the school officials frowned on her living on her own, working full time, and paying rent. Jessica told us that she was treated very badly. So badly in fact, she dropped out in her senior year. This would be a decision she would come to regret.

Jessica has always felt shame and embarrassment for dropping out of high school. It kept her from doing the things she wanted to do with her life. The mere fact that she was a “drop out” weighed on her confidence and self esteem. With a fiery desire, Jessica set about earning her diploma. Now that she was in her late 20’s it was not an option to return to her public school. She contacted Citizens’ High School. We provided the curriculum. She provided the aspiration and elbow grease. Jessica’s kitchen table saw a flurry of activity, as she completed her entire senior year in three months. She graduated in November of 2004.

Now that high school is forever in her rear-view mirror, Jessica has her sites set on the future. She is now enrolled in Veterinary Technician training. We asked her if she had completed the course yet and she smugly replied, “no, not yet, but I will!”

Jessica’s precious leisure time is spent doing anything outdoors. She loves camping, boating, and running the ATV’s. She also loves animals, so the great outdoors is like home to her. This might explain the desire to become a Veterinary Technician.

We here at Citizens’ are very proud of Jessica. We know the courage it takes to go back top school after being away for an extended period. We are also proud of the fact that she has found her confidence and is not resting on her laurels. She is truly an example to her community, family, and of course, her two kids.

Jessica Larsen, you are Citizens’ High Schools

Graduate of the Month for February 2005.

Jessica Larsen is Citizens’ High School
“Graduate of the Month” for February 2005.