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The nearly six decades of Mount Jordan Middle School's existence will remain a vivid memory if Michael Goodman has anything to say about it.
The school librarian and teacher has been working for two years on the Mount Jordan Memory Project, an initiative that, according to its website, aims to "preserve the rich history of this grand old school as it strides proudly into the future."
The Sandy middle school opened in 1954. Goodman is working to document each decade since then with photos and other keepsakes. He has gathered programs from old drama productions and anecdotes from the students who walked the halls years ago. He has even searched obituaries to discover what happened to administrators after they left the school.
The treasure trove of memories is available on the Internet at http://tinyurl.com/bs6w4rs.
"I hope it'll be a site that former students and faculty can go to and relive their memories, [and say] 'I remember that person,'" Goodman said. "Maybe they'll do some memoir-writing of their own."
Goodman got the idea at a public-library convention he attended with two of his daughters both librarians – in Seattle. At a class about community outreach, he learned of a library that compiled a history of its town. He thought to himself, "Why not create a school history?"
Since then, Goodman has been on the lookout for artifacts and stories. He remains busy transferring thousands of pages of yearbook photos online. He hopes the people who studied and worked at the 57-year-old campus will contribute to the cache of written memories. Personal anecdotes have been slow to flow in.
"I'd love to hear from some more people," Goodman said. "Everybody who has looked at [the site] has liked it. They've promised me they would send something, but they haven't."
The project is still in its infancy, but Principal Misty Suarez hopes it will someday provide a "clear picture" of the school from its beginnings to present day.
"Who doesn't like to look through their past, and say, 'Oh my gosh, I remember that,' when they probably wouldn't have thought about it otherwise?" Suarez said. "I hope it never ends, because it means we have more stories to add."
Goodman would like to see the project make significant progress by 2014 when the school celebrates its 60th anniversary.
A memoirist and lover of history, he has enjoyed learning about the school's past. He was amused to hear that students used to ride cows in a field during lunch. Another story about the school's former disciplinary tactics gave Suarez a laugh.
"Kids used to get a kick in the butt I mean literally," the principal said. "I guess one day the [vice] principal went to give [a student] a kick in the butt and he fell."
Goodman was amused by that anecdote, too.
"It raised a great big roar from students," he said, chuckling. "I guess the student got the better of the vice principal. I could tell you who the vice principal was, but I'm not going to."
Goodman isn't just looking for positive stuff. He acknowledges that middle school can be a trying, angst-filled time of awkwardness and social pressures. He wants the Mount Jordan Memory Project to be a true and authentic account of the life and times of the school.
While many people remember their high-school years by saving yearbooks and attending reunions, middle school can be a memorable time, too, and is worthy of reminiscence, Goodman insists.
"This is where people finally start thinking about what their future is going to be," he said. "They're much more aware of what's going on around them."
Goodman has worked at Mount Jordan for 14 years. Before that, he spent 25 years at Union Middle School in Sandy. Goodman says he plans to make as much headway as he can on the project before he retires. Then, he would love to hand it off to another caretaker.
"I love my school wherever I am," Goodman said. "I just want to preserve it because, in the next few years, this old building will be torn down and a new one will be built. I just didn't want all the memories from this building to be lost."
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To contribute to the Mount Jordan Memory Project, contact email@example.com.