Murch kids have been covering for us all week, and we think they did an incredible job. To see the original articles and read more stories – including some fiction, please check out the June edition of their student newspaper, The Blue and Gold. We have permission to reproduce it here.
Down the Staircase into Murch’s Past
by Lucy Chamberlain and Lilly Shaw
You might think Murch’s basement has been filled for years with junk and more junk. Actually, it held valuable clues to our school’s past.
The underground artifacts showed that Murch has long been a lively place. They also reminded us of how much students and technology have changed.
Kids rarely get to go to the basement, but we got permission to explore it in March for this story. To get there, we first pushed open an eerie, blood-red door that read: “DO NOT ENTER. AUTHORIZED PERSONS ONLY.”
When we entered, we saw an old wooden teacher’s desk and smelled damp and musty air as we went down two flights of stairs. The basement wasn’t as dusty or cobwebby as we had imagined. In fact, a lot of it was squeaky clean. It was a bit dimmer than the rest of the school, though. Since it was still winter, we could hear the hissing of the boilers that kept Murch warm.
The storage rooms, though, weren’t especially neat. There were chairs scattered around and file boxes stacked in seemingly random locations. An abandoned computer lay face down on the floor. But in the clutter we discovered some interesting items.
Two shelves of old trophies provided proof that Murch has always been a place for champions. There were first-place trophies for boys basketball and chess, and a big, golden trophy for third place in cross-country in 1984. Other awards recalled the 2004 chess team and the cheerleaders of 1999 and 2002-03.
Still other items showed that Murch has been a fun place through the decades. There were discarded board games, a helium tank for filling balloons, and such stuffed animals as a duck, an owl, a zebra, and even a fuzzy tarantula.
Propped in a corner were bows and arrows that older students would recognize from PE classes. Toy shovels and hoes reminded us of the old Murch playground, which had a sand pit.
Brightly painted wooden backdrops from last year’s Lorax play added some color to the dark rooms. Some places looked like a technology junkyard: old printers, keyboards and some TVs shaped like cubes, not the flat screens we know today. There were even some typewriters from way back before computers became widely used.
But the most interesting thing was what the basement told us about people and how they’ve changed over the decades. For example, in photos of 1963, which we found sitting in a box on a shelf, the kids were dressed formally, with the girls in fancy dresses and the boys in ties. Almost all the girls had bobbed haircuts, while the boys wore their hair short and combed back.
We compared those pictures with those taken in 1995. Those children were dressed casually and had a variety of hairstyles, showing that they enjoyed greater freedom than the students of three decades earlier. And there were lots of files showing evaluations of students and teachers of the past.
By the time you read this, the Murch basement will have been cleared of these materials. They are being stored in a school district warehouse. Some of the items are expected to return when the new Murch is completed. Maybe one of them will be a colorful wooden bench that we found in the basement. On the bench, some past graduating class drew designs and signed their names as a way of leaving their mark on Murch.
As graduating 5th-graders of 2016, we looked at that bench and couldn’t help but think of how we, too, soon will become part of Murch history.