- Associated Press - Monday, January 18, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Emerson Mid-High School Principal Sherry Kishore is starting to feel a lot like a time traveler.

Twice since June, work crews renovating the historic school in downtown Oklahoma City uncovered slate blackboards with well-preserved drawings dating back nearly 100 years.

The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1ZywWkn ) reports that the latest discovery was made while students were on winter break. Once again, Kishore was among the first to witness history.

“It’s like you’re walking into a time capsule that’s been preserved,” Kishore said Friday. “It’s like you just walked through the door into another generation.”

Workers uncovered the blackboards in a classroom on the third floor of the 120-year-old school when they pulled chalkboards and cork boards off the wall to make way for smart boards.

Smart boards are interactive whiteboards that use touch direction for user input.

The findings included a detailed rendering of Oklahoma’s Indian territory, sentences written in cursive, and shapes drawn to show perspective. Flowers drawn in different shades of green and yellow chalk along with a fence and a cabin appeared to have stood the test of time.

Also written in chalk: Dec. 10, 1917.

Ironically, a modern projection device was mounted directly over the 98-year-old blackboard, seen during a tour of the classroom.

“This is our history,” Kishore said. “It’s just a glimpse into people who were in this building before and the way they taught and basically it’s the same concept; we just teach them differently.”

In June, workers uncovered blackboards in several second-floor classrooms with vibrant drawings and lesson plans and the dates Nov. 30 and Dec. 4, 1917, written in chalk.

In addition to math, reading, music and handwriting lessons, rules for keeping clean appeared on the boards along with a history lesson about the Pilgrims.

In one classroom was a drawing of a girl wearing a blue dress with a pink belt blowing a bubble out of a pipe.

That discovery garnered worldwide attention.

District officials have since covered over those blackboards with wood to preserve them while they decide how to display parts to future generations.

“They cannot remove these because this slate is so thin,” Kishore said. “If they tried it would crumble. It would destroy the drawings.”

A section of one chalkboard with eight red stars drawn on it is encased in Plexiglas as a test and has held up pretty well.

“We will selectively uncover some of the chalk drawings so they can be viewed on an ongoing basis, but we have to make sure that we maintain the instructional integrity of the classroom,” said Scott Randall, chief capital projects officer for Oklahoma City Public Schools. “The challenge is combining historical perspective with instruction.”

Emerson, built in 1895, is undergoing MAPS for Kids renovations.

Kishore calls the discoveries a highlight of her career, which includes nearly two decades as a teacher.

“This is a treasure that doesn’t happen to everyone and it doesn’t happen very often,” she said. “It took me through a door to a hundred years ago.

“It just gave me chills, and it still does when I talk about it. I feel very fortunate to be here.”


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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