BY MELANIE BUCK –
Kiylee Hughes is a 10-year old student in the 4th grade at Holly Harshman Elementary and has an uncanny love for history. A love that has made her a winner, in more than one way. Hughes said Ms. Riley is her homeroom and literacy teacher and before Christmas break had given the class an assignment to pick a book for a book report. “Ms. Riley said we needed to have read it before break ended so I went to the Polk County Public Library and got Mena’s Centennial History. I figured that everybody was going to do fiction books or non-fiction books about people and so I thought I would do something on a town. I like history and historical non-fiction so I chose Mena because it’s my hometown,” smiled Hughes.
Hughes also explained that her dad is really into history and that’s where her love of the subject stems. “My dad and me went through it together, on some of the things I didn’t understand,” she said. Choosing what was most important out of all that history proved to be somewhat of a challenge. “I picked out what would give the most information about the book and focused on the founding of Mena and when the railroad moved out. I learned a lot of things that I did not know about Mena.” Hughes learned about where towns, parks, and streets received their names and how Mena boomed when the railroad was here and declined when it left out.
As part of the assignment, Hughes had to write a summary and make a literacy board. Her classroom had a contest and she was one of four winners; two fiction winners and two non-fiction winners. Then, the whole 4th grade had a contest and Hughes won again, with three others; two fiction and two non-fiction). After that, they moved on to the DeQueen Mena Education Cooperative contest where only two winners would be announced, one fiction winner and one non-fiction winner. After having to not only present her literacy board, Hughes also had to speak about her book and give an oral summary. However, her love of history and her dedication to her work paid off. “I was the only first place winner from Mena,” smiled a proud Hughes. Hughes claimed the trophy for the regional winner of the non-fiction category.
Hughes has aspirations to be a singer when she grows up and would like to attend the University of Arkansas. Her advice on success to those younger than her: “They should choose history because not a lot of people would choose history. It’s really cool. I enjoyed learning about Arthur Stillwell; how he worked so hard, even though they sometimes hit rough spots and the railroad moved out, he kept trying. So I would tell them that even though they hit rough spots, they just have to keep on going.”