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Classical 101

7th Graders Exploring the Hidden History of Their School Building

Oftentimes our vacation travels take us to places with a lot of great history to explore.  Conversations with friends who actually live in the places we visit generally get around to what we saw that day.  It's usually a combination of quirky little shops, historic buildings, off-the-beaten-path hikes, and the occasional ghost town.  (Yes, they are out there!)

Many times the response is, "Wow, we've lived here for fill-in-the-blank years and keep saying we need to do that."

It's the same in Columbus, Ohio.  When I was asked to work with a group of students in Hadley Bachman's 7th-grade English class at Graham Expeditionary Middle School, little did I know what surprises were in store.

I had driven past the building many times without even realizing it.  I was also completely unaware of the history contained within.

When I first met with Ms. Bachman, one of the first things I noticed were the high ceilings.  Upon further inspection, I realized they were made of stamped tin, which was typical for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  I had seen such ceilings in old buildings out west, but Columbus, Ohio?  It was then that I learned that it was the first junior high school in the United States, opening in 1909 as Indianola Middle School.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Ms. Bachman's students spent time at the Ohio History Connection doing research into the history of their school, are developing scripts, and will soon be recording and producing podcasts.  After hearing some of them read what they had written, I am eager to learn more about the building's history and to hear the finished product.

My thanks to Hadley Bachman and her students for the chance to work with them on this fascinating project!