By Blake Spurney
HESSTON—A common refrain from U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran during a tour Friday at Hesston High School was asking teachers and students if they had what they needed.
Moran, who hails from Plainville, told robotics teacher Trevor Foreman that he was worried about students in small towns being left behind. He also asked if efforts to get more girls involved in robotics had been effective.
Foreman said he would like to see the elementary and middle schools more involved. He said most schools like Derby had a middle school program, which gives those students a couple of more years of experience once they get to high school. He also noted that Hesston certainly had what it needed to compete.
“This is mesmerizing,” Moran said while watching a demonstration of robots. “I would stand here all day and watch.”
Seniors Jace Regier and Katie Kueker led Moran through a handful of the more prominent rooms at the school, such as the Pit Stop, the audio-visual lab, the gymnasium and the band room. Regier told Moran he planned to study supply-chain management in college.
Moran asked him if he could get his degree within the next year so he could help solve the nation’s problems with the supply chains. He said robotics was related to supply-chain management. Regier asked him in what way.
“In moving things,” Moran replied.
Kueker told Moran that students at Hesston were awarded more opportunities than most from small towns. Regier said the city was fortunate to have Excel, AGCO and Beneficient.
“Hesston, I think, is thriving as far as labor goes,” Moran said. “It really is.”
Kueker said Hesston was one of the few towns where someone could get her degree and come back to work. She told Moran that she and Regier in her advanced placement government class had been researching all of the committees on which Moran served. He said he was on more than most senators and that his high number of committee assignments provided him more arenas in which he could make a difference.
At the audio-visual lab, Moran told teacher Katie Gaston, “You matter.” Gaston explained how the students were in charge of all the programming for the Swather Sports Network. She said the school purchased new cameras with COVID-19 money. She said viewership blew up during the pandemic with viewers from all 50 states and some foreign nations. Gaston reminded Moran that she met him in 2005 at his office in Washington, D.C., during a student trip. She said that trip spurred her passion for learning history.
Moran, who last visited Hesston High nine years ago, told Principal Ty Rhodes that young people could be intimidating. He said he no longer spoke to government classes.
Regier told Moran that the school had good community support that he thought was a little above average. He and Kueker got to lead the tour because they are the president and vice president of the student council, respectively.
“It was a cool experience,” Kueker said. “It was fun to meet someone who makes real change in our country.”