At first, the commander of Newton Whitesell-Finnell VFW Post 971, Donald Typer, couldn’t find the words to describe how he felt.


This story first appeared in the Dec. 22 edition of the Kansan.

At first, the commander of Newton Whitesell-Finnell VFW Post 971, Donald Typer, couldn’t find the words to describe how he felt.

In response to watching a massive 12 by 18-foot flag descend from the ceiling of Ravenscroft Gym Friday night, he could only make a motion like he was pulling his heart out of his chest.

“It makes your heart swell up,” Typer said as he found his words. “This adds a lot of excitement. It adds patriotism to the game.”

The flag, unfurled for the first time between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games Friday, is the result of fund-raising efforts by local woman Kay Self.

Self raised thousands for the project — much of it coming from the Newton Rotary and the Nygaard Family Foundation.

“I am glad I was able to be part of the group that did this,” said Rotary president Steve Johnson. “And on behalf of the Rotary, I’d like to thank the Nygaard foundation for support as well.”

Self announced the project, called Patriotism in Education, in August after getting permission to pursue the purchase of the flag from the Newton Board of Education.

She first saw what is known as a rolling flag while attending high school basketball games in Idaho.

She pitched the idea to the American Legion, VFW, Rotary and sought donations. Friday, Newton became the first high school in Kansas to use a rolling flag.

But nothing she said, seemingly, prepared those donors for what they actually saw Friday night.

“Awesome,” said David Nygaard. “This fosters respect for our country, what we stand for and what we are trying to achieve — making the world a better place to raise a family.”

When hanging for the anthem, the flag extends from the rafters to about six feet off the playing floor.

Newton High School activities director Brian Engelken, who was one of few to see the flag tested before it’s debut, said having the flag lowered adds something to the pre-game ceremony.

“It’s impressive to see,” Engelken said. “I think it will foster more patriotism and appreciation of the flag. Anything we can do to make our events more enjoyable for our patrons, we look to do.”