John White Speaker Series begins

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John White Jr. worked as a custodian at Central School in Kalispell for close to 30 years. He was beloved by students and was known for ringing the school bell until all of the tardy students were in the school. (Photo courtesy of The Museum at Central School)

The Museum at Central School is Kalispell will launch its annual John White Speaker Series beginning Jan. 14 with Montana Historical Society’s Ellen Baumler. Dr. Baumler will present on the Chinese in Montana, who at one point made up nearly 10 percent of the state’s population.

The series, now in its 16th year, will run every other week through Feb. 25 and feature topics such as ranch life, the Harlequin Duck and Calamity Jane.

Next on the docket on Jan. 28, is Flathead Valley Community College’s Bill Rossiter who will be deliver a folk music performance titled, “Home, Home on the Ranch,” which promises to be an enjoyable and authentic take on the setbacks and triumphs of Western pioneers and homesteaders.

On Feb. 11, Glacier National Park Biologist Lisa Bate will present the topic, “What is a Sea Duck Doing in Glacier?” which focuses on her work in the Park and the Harlequin Duck’s success in Montana as well as the struggles faced by the species.

Back by popular demand to round out the series is Mary Jane Bradbury, who will be making her fourth consecutive appearance in the John White Series with her living history presentation “Martha and Me: Reflections of Dora DuFran about the Real Life of Calamity Jane” on Feb. 25.

The John White speaker series honors beloved Central School bell ringer and custodian, John White, the son of a Texas slave, who served at Central School for over 30 years. He knew all the students, and they knew and respected him, as did the citizens of Kalispell in the 1920s through the 50s. John White graduated from Flathead County High School in 1922 and became perhaps the most iconic figure in the history of Central School.

All four presentations are at 2:30 p.m. at the Museum at Central School, located at 124 2nd Ave E. in Kalispell.

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