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Norman High School
Class of 1969






Jefferson Elementary School

250 N. Cockrel Ave.
Norman, OK 73071



Jefferson is very important historically because it is the oldest school in Norman. When it first opened Monday, January 15, 1894, it was known as Eastside School.

In 1886, Mr. George H. Colley offered to donate two and one-half acres of land for Norman's first school. He stipulated, however, that the school be located in the vicinity of what is now Carter and Acres Streets.

At that time Norman was divided politically; the railroad tracks served as a boundary line. The west side was controlled by Republicans and the east side by Democrats.

The people on the west side wanted the school located on that side of town. Bickering between the two sides went on for several years; finally, in 1892, Mr. L. T. Edwards from Pennsylvania, homesteaded a quarter section of land on 12th Avenue. He suggested that winding twine be tied to his doorknob and the doorknob of Mr. Hugh Jones on North Peters Street; the distance could then be measured and the school could be located at the half-way point. Thus it was decided.

The next year a bond issue for $12,750 was approved by the voters for the construction of a three-story building with a basement. The top floor was to be a high school and the lower two floors a grammar school. Rock for the lower story was quarried from Rock Creek; pressed brick was used for the upper story. The architect was Mr. Jack Kahoe. This school, completed in 1894, served the entire town of Norman. It was first named Eastside School or District #29. It housed grades 1-12 in a three-story building with a basement and a bell tower. Around 1900, a group of Republicans led by Dr. Boyd demanded their own school on the west side of town. The group voted a $5,000 bond and built Washington School.

In a news article dated September 17, 1908, Eastside School was referred to as Jefferson for the first time. The faculty consisted of: G-1 Miss Cook and Miss Rice; G-2 Miss Bodine; G-3 Miss Lindsay and Miss Downing; G-4 Miss Keopke; G-5 Miss Donnelly;G-6 Miss Sullivan and Miss Wise; G-7 Miss Bowling; G-8 Misses Taylor and Jackson.

In 1914, an attempt failed to get the old building (Eastside) condemned. Soon afterwards the building mysteriously burned.

A new building was completed in 1916; the name Jefferson Elementary was officially assigned to this site. Grades 1-8 were in the modern up-to-date school complete with indoor plumbing and chalkboards in every room. What is now the cafeteria and the south wing were part of the same long building. The large bell from the original school was installed on the second story. This building was partially condemned in 1958 and a west wing was added. This new wing of blond brick had ten classrooms. An open patio connected the three buildings with a covered stairwell that lead to the old boiler room basement. The bell from the original school was put in a separate bell tower at that time.

In 1981-83, the north and south wings were refurbished and four new classrooms added to an extension of the north wing. In the Spring of 1984, the Middle section including a library media center, office, and bathrooms was completed. It was opened the end of April, the week chosen to celebrate Jefferson's 90th birthday. The new construction of the media center incorporated the bell tower into the building; the tower has an old-fashioned look, and is covered with copper.

In February, 1988, the renovation of the west wing was completed along with the addition of a gymnasium. Blond brick was replaced with red brick.

In the Summer of 1990, a Centennial Mural was commissioned. Artist Peggy Smith of Norman painted the mural depicting the three school periods of 1884, 1938, and 1994; two large trees divide the sections. In the first section, 1894, the old school is the main focus, but the picture of a group of boys in the lower left corner is important because it was inspired by an actual photograph of that time period. The boys are standing on a jostle board; the objective being to jiggle the board and see who could stay on the longest. In the second section, 1938, you see the changes in the building along with signs of change in dress, games, transportation, etc. The picture of the two girls standing by boys playing marbles was inspired by a photograph of Golda Pice and Joyce Hames dated 1938. The third section features Jefferson Elementary as it looks today, 1994. There was several examples of symbolism in the Centennial Mural. The star in the upper left corner represents the sunrise. The star symbolizes the first school which stood alone east of town, as it appears in the old photograph. Just as the Morning Star is bright at the beginning of the students came together in the manifestation of that structure as it stood bright and new on the open prairie East of Norman. The light of those hopes and dreams continue to shine ever brighter with each new generation that is influenced by Jefferson School. The bell represented in each school symbolizes the sweet call to knowledge and all the doors it opens. It also represents the continuity of professionalism, scholarship, caring, and community that Jefferson has embodied across the many years. The dragon symbolizes the school spirit. Each person must define that for himself. The dragon with the book in the 1994 section symbolizes Jefferson's emphasis on academics and the moon in the upper right hand corner symbolizes movement to the future and the unknown with confidence and anticipation.

On June 1, 1991, a group of PTA volunteers under the direction of Danny Hale began work on the courtyard. It was completed during the summer and dedicated in the Fall of 1991. It has been utilized by classes for reading, studying, and enjoying fresh air and the beautiful surroundings.

January 20, 1994, marked the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jefferson Elementary School, grades K-5, which was originally called Eastside School and housed first grade through high school. This year, 1994, has been a year to remember and celebrate, beginning at Back-to-School Night when teachers dressed in centennial clothing, our award in October from the National Drug free Schools program for our efforts to maintain a drug-free, supportive place for students, to our being named one of the top ten winners in the Principal's Reading Challenge. To present this challenge, Principal Kathy Taber arrived in an antique automobile to challenge the children to read 100 books per class. When the challenge was completed, she waved as she departed in a hot-air balloon. The contrast symbolized 100 years of progress. Jefferson also was selected as a demonstration site for a Jostens Interactive Computer lab. Students and teachers are learning to use new Macintosh computers and the special programs to enhance classroom curriculum. We want Norman's oldest school to be the newest in technology.

As we celebrate Jefferson's past, we continue working for a positive future so that Jefferson will continue to be a wonderful place for the next 100 years.

Thanks to Phil Blanton for this written history.






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This page was updated: Monday, 09-Jun-2014 17:58:40 CDT

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