Knightsville Elementary has unraveled its own little time capsule, right in the reception area of the school.
Knightsville is one of the schools scheduled to upgrade its security entrance this summer. Renovations for Knightsville began on June 26, when a section of drywall was peeled off in the front reception area of the school.
Principal Wally Baird happened to take notice of a green color peeking behind the remains of the drywall on one wall in the reception area, directly across from the receptionist’s window. Baird teamed up with Robert Beddard, site maintenance for the school, to tear down the remaining drywall – and ended up uncovering a hidden piece of artwork: a mural, painted by a third grade class during the 1977-1978 school year.
Baird said renovations were originally scheduled for June 30.
“We started a little early and found some treasure,” he said.
The mural depicts the state of South Carolina, with icons painted in specific areas of the state – some of which Baird and Assistant Principal Claire Sieber are still trying to figure out: there appear to be five little churches above where Charleston would be, presumably to represent the “Holy City.” The capitol building is painted over Columbia, and nearby is what appears to be the Darlington Racetrack with three tiny racecars zipping along the track. References to Charleston’s naval base seem to be represented on the map, with airplanes and a ship out on the water. The state bird and state flower – the Carolina Wren and Yellow Jessamine, respectively – are on either side of the map. The students painted what are probably the Blue Ridge Mountains near the northwest corner of the state, and there is also a shark depicted swimming in the ocean.
It is not clear who the class’s teacher was that year, but to the left of the map are the words “3D 1977-1978,” followed by a list of the 28 young artists who took part in painting the mural.
Sieber said Knightsville Elementary was built in 1939, and the school celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.
“One of the things we talked about was here we are, moving along with our safety doors, preparing for our future students, and here is a glimpse of our past students,” Sieber said. “Our own little time capsule.”
School officials hope to preserve the mural by putting it on display, possibly near the school’s third grade classrooms since South Carolina history is part of the grade’s curriculum — as it evidently was in 1977 as well.
“We definitely want to preserve the historical value,” Sieber said. “It’s important for kids to understand history’s significance and to treasure things like this. We need to teach our kids to learn from history — the good and the bad.”
Baird is hopeful that once word gets out about the mural, somebody will recognize a name of one of the children and maybe know the story behind the mural.
“There’s a lot of great history here,” he said. “It’s just exciting. I just love it.”
Baird said uncovering the mural is important because it connects the generations, from the past to the present to the future students.
“The school is all about the kids,” he said. “This is just a reminder to keep us grounded in what we do. This shows the many years the school has been here, doing that. To us, it’s priceless. We just don’t want to lose it.”
Knightsville’s 2013-2014 school year ended with over 1,400 students. It is the biggest elementary school in Dorchester 2, Baird said.
“We’re so proud of the school and the history and the heritage behind it,” Baird said. “This is a vital part of it.”
What’s left of names
All 28 little artists put their names by the mural. The name of the class’ teacher is unknown, and many of the students’ names have been chipped off.
The names of the 28 students appear to be as follows:
Joe Ann Haynes
Johnny (?) Glenn
Last name Brown
Gerald (?) Driggers
William (?) Staggard
Randel (?) Kear
Raefield (?) Glover
Jamie (?) Hall
Last name Farrell
Jo Ann Sweat