Custodian made his mark on historic blackboards
Principal Sherry Kishore believes a custodian at Emerson Mid-High School knew what he was doing in 1917 when he wrote the dates on several blackboards that would be covered up for close to 100 years before workers found them in June and again last month.
"He made a point of writing on all these boards," Kishore said Friday. "I think he was making an effort to preserve them because he knew that some day in the future somebody was going to pull off the new boards they just put on. "
Twice since June, crews renovating the historic school in downtown Oklahoma City uncovered slate blackboards with well-preserved writings and drawings dating back to 1917.
The latest discovery was made while students were on winter break. Workers uncovered the blackboards in a classroom on the third floor of the 120-year-old school at 715 N Walker Ave. when they pulled chalkboards and cork boards off the wall. The date Dec. 10, 1917 was written in chalk.
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.
The custodian's name as it appears on the blackboards is R.J. Scott. Kishore said his first name is Riley. She said attempts to locate his family have proved unsuccessful.
Research, Kishore believes, shows that the school district may have passed a bond issue to pay for new green blackboards and covered up the existing ones when students were observing holiday breaks.
"I think they did it one floor at a time," she said. "Everything on the second floor indicated they were going home for Thanksgiving break.
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"These up here (third floor), they were obviously here in December. They did it in stages, just like we're doing the floors now."