Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Public Schools - Eugene Field

I was amazed to read on the webpage of OKC's Eugene Field Elementary that it was their '25th year'! Further, it was printed they were 'established' in 1984. It really is sad when a school district forgets its history!

Eugene Field Elementary School was in 1909 "awaiting opening" with a building packed with equipment ready to educate OKC children. In September of 1910, Eugene Field was listed as one of the schools gripping for the onslaught of some 16,000 boys and girls heading back to the classroom.   [The pictures shows the rebuilt structure and the re-cycled pillars from the original school].
I worked there in the library (library media center) as a 'library clerk' and then 'library media assistant' from 1981 to 1985. Jean Thompson was the librarian in charge of E.F. and ten other school libraries. My two sons attended there and Mrs. Juniper, Miss Abboussi, and others were teachers. When the board was deciding if they should just tear down the old building and close it, I spoke on behalf of the school to the board of education. So, it is a little disturbing to see this revisionist history at work! We fought for the preservation and continuation of "Eugene Field Elementary" to honor the early history as it merged with a promising future. Instead, the history has been eliminated.

I marched in the parade on the last 'Field Day" (and yes that is me in the picture) with my scouts (who had practiced on the playground to get the flag carrying just right). In the newspaper a year later, was a photo of Principal Audrey Baker in the library of the temp school at the old Mayfair school (NW 59th and Independence). I packed up the library as evidenced by the boxes seen in the image. After a delay of more than a year we were finally allowed to leave and I (and helpers) repacked it all and moved it back to the brand spanking new version of Eugene Field Elementary.

Hollywood actor Dale Robertson was an alum of Eugene Field, according to numerous alums who gathered in May of 1983 to say farewell to the old building. Eugene Field was, according to others, the first OKC school with a band. A time capsule was buried when the new school was built to be opened in December of 2035. It contained letters, pictures, and other artifacts put there by the children and people involved with the school up to the rebuilding. A building, by the way that incorporated architectural features from the original building (columns, etc.) and won an award.

So yes, congratulations are in order to Eugene Field School - you are at least 100 years old.

If someone has an image of the original school please send a copy to
(Sources include Oklahoman (1983-1985), Chronicles of Oklahoma, and OKCPS website)

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