Hidden Gems

School Officials Have Old Chalkboards Removed, But 100-Yr-Old Surprise Is Hiding Beneath Them

I’ve always loved history; it was my favorite subject in school. there’s so much we can learn from the past. Not just events, or well-known figures, but from the everyday people – how they lived, what they believed, how they worked, what they ate, what they learned in school. One hundred years from now, people will be studying our lives and discovering what influenced us and our way of life.

Imagine working as a contractor, responsible for renovating an old school. Wouldn’t it be exciting to stumble upon something from the past? The contractors who worked in the classrooms of Emerson High School in Oklahoma City experienced this very thing.

The school was built in 1895. The contractors were charged with replacing the old whiteboards in the classrooms with new smart boards. First, however, they had to remove the old, out-dated chalkboards. they discovered something wonderous – a piece of history that remained untouched for nearly 100 years.

Beneath the current blackboards, intact and undisturbed were drawings and writings from a classroom of a century ago. the work that looks like it could’ve been done yesterday is that of teachers and students, but it’s unclear who wrote what. The whiteboards protected this calendar from November and December 1917 and this drawing of a Thanksgiving turkey that marks this unique American holiday.

Students today are unfamiliar with the material and subject matter taught in 1917; concepts taught then are similar to now, but were written differently.

For instance, Principal Sherry Kishore says about the multiplication wheel, “I have never seen that technique in my life.”

School officials weren’t shocked about what was written, but how. This sentence reads, “I give my head, my heart, and my life to my God and One nation indivisible with justice for all.”

These teaching methods resonate with older generations.  Principal Kishore showed her 85-year-old mother the board: “She just stood there and cried. She said it was exactly like her classroom was when she was going to  school.” These boards are older than her mother by 13 years.

English teacher Cinthea Comer states, “It was so eerie because the colors were so vibrant it looked like it was drawn the same day. To know that it was drawn 100 years ago… it’s like you’re going into a looking glass into the past.”

Both the school district and city are working together to preserve this precious fabulous find. Who knew there’d be a treasure hidden just behind a classroom wall.

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