Pauls Valley Democrat
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
Ever since the dawn of classroom based learning, teachers and administrators have struggled to find ways to engage their pupils in each semester’s curriculum.
Luckily for Maysville High School students, Superintendent William Martin not only found a way for the knowledge to stick, but has established success in getting them to create an entire community tradition using the history class.
From helping collect information which can be referenced for generations to come to converting local history over to staged entertainment, there’s been a certain level of pride developed in knowing where things began.
“Once you see that, you’ve got the kids interested and they just went nuts,” said Martin, who traces his love of the subject back to his time at Oklahoma City University. “One of these days they’re going to appreciate this.”
Martin began working with this type of model back in the early 1990s when he taught in Waurika and carried over once again a year after he started leading administration for the Maysville district in 2006.
It began with looking up old existing records or asking around to help preserve what was known about the Garvin County town and has now progressed to the point they are sought out for information from other people as well as performing adaptations in theater based on people who once lived there.
It was in the 2008/2009 school year when students were first introduced to one of the most influential families in early Maysville history,
The Pattersons, said Martin. That class helped restore the family cemetery plot in Whitebead as well as begin a book on the tragic events surrounding the life of a third grade teacher named Vernon Patterson.
Students actually wrote a play based on events surrounding other residents initially, but Vernon’s story was continued upon in the next couple of years, which led to what would be performances of this drama four times for the town and even entering a nationwide play writing contest earlier this January, said Martin.
While they did not win the contest through the Jewel Box Theater in Oklahoma City, the comments they received were very positive and will be used to help improve projects in the future.
“Once people found out we were doing it, they started bringing us stuff... good stuff,” said Martin, adding the play’s content has had no trouble finding viewers with murders, a love triangle and a suicide. “It just snowballed from there.”
In the end, Martin realizes that it has taken a lot of investment from various people and welcomes anyone who has more to add, whether it be stories or photographs, to their collection.
There will be attempts to perform again when time allows and hopes to one day find a way to make all the information available online.
Martin noted how students have also brought about contributions like a museum and their own theater, currently being remodeled by a grant from the Chickasaw Nation.
He believes they deserve all the credit, because they’ve done the work to earn it and this only compliments what has been about 40 years for him in the field so far.
“I think it’s neat to know the place... why did it come to be,” said Martin, who has copies of the play and book available if people wish to explore the information themselves. “It touches you.”
For more information call the school district at 405-867-5595.