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Sat, Aug. 24

Wanna-be cowboys and cowgirls get instructions from modern day cowboy

Wanna-be cowboys and cowgirls from Manzanita Elementary School received some roping instruction from Mike Ford on Monday.

Ford, who calls himself a modern day cowboy - and just happens to be the Kingman Unified School District superintendent – loaded his trusty white pickup with cowboy gear – chaps, spurs, a dummy cow, a rope and a saddle he won in a team roping competition.

He showed second-grade students and teachers how to use a lasso, as second-grade teacher Deanna Harnisch demonstrated how to put on chaps and spurs.

Students tried their hand at lassoing the motionless cow.

And while wearing a cowboy hat and sitting in a saddle does not a cowboy make, the hands-on activity got the students thinking.

"The whole idea is to get them to write about their experiences," Harnisch, one of four second-grade teachers at the school, said.

"The whole philosophy is to get them to write more."

Harnisch's students read the book "Roundup Rodeo at Rio Ranch" by Angela Shelf Medearis, which is about a boy who wants to be like a real cowboy.

"In the story Jose rescues a hurt cow.

He lassos it and takes care of it," Harnisch said.

"We've been discussing the differences between what cowboys were like before, and what they are like now."

They will then write their own cowboy books, Harnisch said.

Last year, students went to Ford's home to ride one of his two horses, but there were too many students for that this year.

Many students said they know people with horses, or have ridden a horse.

"When the horse goes really fast it gets your tummy upset," said Katie Bizon.

Harnisch said students talked about the different things cowboys do, such as branding cattle, and will try their own "branding irons" on potatoes later this week.

They also talked about the bandanas that keep the dust off cowboys' faces.

"They also used the bandana as a washcloth, a napkin and as a first aid bandage," she said.

Second-grade students will also attend a cowboy rally with four stations, each with a cowboy activity such as square dancing or a pretend campfire.

"The writing assignments are more interesting for them if they have some first-hand experiences to write about," Harnisch said.

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