- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

PARAGOULD, Ark. (AP) - In late May, School of the 21st Century teacher Sara Nelson-Bassett unearthed a time capsule while cleaning out her classroom’s closet.

She discovered five scrapbooks tucked deep inside the closet, apparently unseen by anyone for years.

The books range in age from 1944 through the early 1990s and offer glimpse into the history of both the school, formerly known as Elmwood, and those students who have contributed to the success of the school over the last half-century.

When asked how long she thought the scrapbooks had been hiding in the school, Nelson-Bassett said, “Oh gosh, years! It was just box on top of box on top of box in that closet so by finding them I really felt like I unearthed them.”

The oldest book dates from the 1944-1945 school year and its contents represent the district’s commitment to the war effort by, “Fighting the Enemy Through Education.”

Staci Haynes-Goodman, an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher with the Paragould School District was both surprised and excited when she heard of Nelson-Bassett’s discovery.

Haynes-Goodman’s grandfather, former Paragould School District Superintendent Rufus Haynes was featured in the earliest book.

“To see that makes me feel proud. Very proud,” Haynes-Goodman told the Paragould Daily Press (https://bit.ly/1iqNyQT).

“I remember that during the war (World War II), my grandfather stayed back home when all the men from Paragould went off to fight. I guess he was stuck here with all these women, but knowing now that he was fighting the war from the home front just makes me proud.”

Remembering her grandmother’s contributions, Haynes-Goodman said, “When my grandfather decided to stay back and be a teacher and ultimately the superintendent during the war, my grandmother, Walta Haynes, took on some of his responsibilities, like coaching the boys’ basketball team. It was a tough time, but everyone played their part.”

Initially dubbed “Eastside,” Elmwood Elementary School has seen a significant number of changes during the past 50 years.

Named for a large grove of Elm trees, which once stood over the campus, the first building on the present site was built in 1914 and was replaced by a newer, more efficient six-classroom building in 1963.

The current building was constructed in 1967. Now a preschool, the Elmwood campus has served as a typical elementary school for the district as well as a special needs school.

Poring over the scrapbooks on a recent Friday afternoon, Nelson-Bassett and Haynes-Goodman couldn’t help but recognize the historic and intrinsic value of the old photographs, news clippings and student art.

“This does need to be preserved somehow.” Nelson-Bassett said.

“There are so many people, young and old, in these books who are still around in the community and I am sure people would love to see these pictures again,” said Haynes-Goodman.

Many of the books are fragile due to their age, but it does not seem that many people have handled them during the years, perhaps prolonging the integrity of the scrapbooks and their contents.

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Information from: Paragould Daily Press, https://www.paragoulddailypress.com/


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