Closing TPS schools to hold open houses Saturday
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Friday, May 20, 2011
5/20/11 at 7:50 AM
coverage of Project
Students, past and present, have a unique opportunity to reminisce about their "reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic" learning days before Tulsa Public Schools shutters 13 school buildings.
TPS is hosting "Saturday Salute!" open houses from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Addams, Alcott, Barnard, Cherokee, Chouteau, Early Childhood Development Center-Bunche, Grimes, Roosevelt and Sandburg elementary schools; Cleveland and Wilson middle schools; and Tulsa Met-Franklin and Tulsa Met-Lombard alternative education schools. Former and current students, parents, teachers and neighbors are invited.
News of the school district's latest consolidation effort has stirred vivid school-day memories for sisters Joyce Jackson, 81, and Doreen Wood, 83, who attended Barnard Elementary School and Wilson Middle School.
Soon all three schools the women attended as children will be schools no longer - they graduated from Central High School when it was located downtown.
They remember when school lunches cost 10 cents - or a whopping 15 cents if you wanted dessert - and when the Works Progress Administration constructed a stone wall to guard Barnard's playground from traffic along Lewis Avenue.
"I remember saying to my parents, 'What's WPA?' And they explained to me that these were men who were out of work because of the Depression. There, as a little girl of about 6 or 7, I was learning national economics in a very meaningful way," Jackson said. "I feel like I knew every stone that went in place."
Because Jackson and Wood enjoyed excellent, well-rounded educations, they understand today's need for change. The TPS consolidation plan, called Project Schoolhouse, is designed to bring reform, including greater equity, to the city's schools.
"I was just horrified when I read about the public schools doing away with art and music and gym in part or entirely," Jackson said. "They are absolutely essential. Art and music and gym are not luxuries that can be done away with. They are essential parts of people's lives, things that contribute to the maturity and broadness of scope we all need."
In addition to those three courses, Jackson keenly remembers lessons in grammar, punctuation and sentence diagramming. Many of her memories center on feelings and people.
At 4 years old, she was the youngest child in her kindergarten class in the fall of 1934. For the first two weeks, she cried and cried, until her teacher, Mary White, took her into the hallway and scolded her. Between that and a pat of comfort from a classmate named Nancy, Jackson finally got herself together.
She also remembers the disgust she felt after trying sauerkraut and canned spinach for the first time in the school cafeteria and being made to finish them before she could return her lunch tray.
And she can recall the exact place on the Barnard playground where she first learned she was different from her classmates.
"Because our parents were immigrants from England, we were raised in a home with English accents, but I didn't know I had an English accent. I remember a whole circle of children standing around me saying, 'Now talk for us.'
"I didn't know that I sounded different, so that was a puzzlement to me," Jackson said.
Many of the sisters' memories of Wilson, which was then a junior high school, center on World War II.
Wood remembers knitting scarves for British soldiers but being banned from doing so in home economics - her teacher didn't want to be supporting the war effort because the U.S. had not yet entered the war.
Fears of war
Jackson entered seventh grade at Wilson in the fall of 1941 and recalls the Monday that everyone in the building packed into the cafeteria to listen to the radio as President Roosevelt declared war on Japan.
"I remember exactly where I was standing in the doorway. I remember being so frightened because we were more aware than our peers of what was happening because all of our English relatives had been going through the war for a couple of years already," she said.
"I wondered, 'What if they come and bomb us like they have our cousins in England?' I remember that terrible feeling of fear and powerlessness."
Both sisters earned bachelor's degrees at the University of Tulsa, and Wood went on to complete her Ph.D. there. Twenty years after her first day as a student there, she returned to Wilson as a teacher for one academic year, before moving on to teach at TU and Tulsa Community College. She retired from TCC just last year.
Jackson, meanwhile, still conducts cooking classes in English High Tea from her home. Although she has long since lost that English accent, she doesn't want the pastry recipes and traditions passed down to her from her mother to end with her.
Closing school buildings hosting open houses Saturday
Addams Elementary School
5323 S. 65th West Ave.
Namesake: Jane Addams, reformer, pacifist and Nobel Peace Prize winner
Alcott Elementary School
525 E. 46th St. North
Namesake: Louisa May Alcott, children's poetry and short story writer and Civil War abolitionist
Barnard Elementary School
2324 E. 17th St.
Namesake: Henry Barnard, educational promoter and first U.S. commissioner of education
Cherokee Elementary School
6001 N. Peoria Ave.
Established 1920, annexed by TPS 1933
Namesake: The Cherokee people
Chouteau Elementary School
575 N. 39th West Ave.
Namesake: Jean Pierre Chouteau, trader and explorer who founded the first white settlement in Oklahoma
Early Childhood Development Center-Bunche
2703 N. Yorktown Place
Namesake: Ralph Johnson Bunche, black statesman and diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner
Grimes Elementary School
3213 E. 56th St.
Namesake: Charles W. Grimes, local oilman and first superintendent of schools in Tulsa County
Roosevelt Elementary School
1202 W. Easton St.
Namesake: Theodore Roose-velt, 26th U.S. president
Sandburg Elementary School
18580 E. Third St.
Namesake: Carl Sandburg, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer
Cleveland Middle School
724 N. Birmingham Ave.
Namesake: Grover Cleveland, 22nd U.S. president
Wilson Middle School
1127 S. Columbia Ave.
Namesake: Woodrow Wilson, 28th U.S. president
1136 S. Allegheny Ave.
Namesake: Benjamin Franklin, inventor, publisher, philosopher and U.S. founding father
1205 W. Newton St.
Namesake: Albert Lombard, 1906 donor of land for a one-room school house
Original Print Headline: Students say farewell
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Joyce Jackson (left) and her sister Doreen Wood, who attended Barnard Elementary School in the 1930s, talk with current students about the school Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Joyce Jackson (left) and her sister Doreen Wood look out the window at Barnard Elementary School and talk about memories from when they attended the school in the 1930s. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Doreen Wood (left) and her sister Joyce Jackson stand in front of Henry Barnard Elementary School, which they attended in the 1930s, on Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World