Long-Lost Chalkboard Drawings Discovered in Oklahoma City School
Classrooms frozen in time, with century-old lessons still scrawled on the chalkboards, were discovered by contractors doing work at Oklahoma City’s Emerson High School this week.
During renovations, workers were pulling down blackboards and bulletin boards to make way for new high-tech smart boards, or interactive whiteboards, when they uncovered the hidden lessons lurking just out of sight.
The nearly 100-year-old chalkboards are dated November 30 and December 4, 1917, and were not cleaned before they were covered up with replacement boards almost a century ago.
The well-preserved lessons on music, multiplication, and personal hygiene, are in many ways similar to what children learn today, but also offer a glimpse to a bygone era, where children pledged to “give my head, my heart, and my life to my God and one nation, indivisible, with justice for all.”
“The penmanship blows me away, totally, because you don’t see a lot of that anymore,” said the school’s principal, Sherry Kishore, to the Oklahoman. “Some of the handwriting in some of these rooms is beautiful.”
While artistically the drawings can’t match the quality of other recent discoveries from the hands of Frederic Leighton and Leonardo da Vinci (see Frederic Leighton’s Lost Study Found Behind Bedroom Door of English Mansion and Newly Discovered Leonardo da Vinci Portrait on Display at the College of William and Mary), they do have an undeniable historical significance.
Kishore’s 85-year-old mother, herself a former penmanship teacher, was moved to tears by the sight of the long-lost lessons. “She said it was exactly like her classroom was when she was going to school.”
Each classroom was also learning about the Pilgrims, with numerous drawings of turkeys and old-fashioned sailing ships. Another room featured a colored drawing of a young girl blowing a bubble.
“It was so eerie because the colors were so vibrant it looked like it was drawn the same day,” Cinthea Comer told the Oklahoman. “To know that it was drawn 100 years ago . . . it’s like you’re going into a looking glass into the past.”
A spokesperson for the school district assured the Oklahoman that the school and the city were working to “preserve the ‘chalk’ work of the teachers that has been captured in time.”
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