When Woodrow Wilson High School first opened its doors, it offered students the promise of a solid education and the tools needed to tackle the real world when it came time to leave. 

 

That was 76 years ago, and although students enrolled today bear few similarities to the first class, the promise remains the same — with one exception. This year, students have a unique opportunity to flip through the pages of our country’s past, as told by one of its most respected educators and leaders, not to mention, the school’s namesake. 

 

“The books were donated by the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library,” says WWHS librarian, Bradley Sue Howell. “I was real excited when they finally got here.”

 

She’s referring to a priceless collection of nearly 30 books donated by the class of 2004. They include many written about our 28th president, as well as a five-volume set entitled “History of the American People” by Woodrow Wilson, and a first edition copy of  “The New Freedom” written by him in 1913.

 

Ask Howell why today’s teenagers should care about a bunch of dusty old books, and she’ll tell you that not all of them will, but they should.

 

“These books were from his time period from the 1930s and before — it’s real statements of what was going on,” Howell says.

 

But for now, at least, the words of Woodrow Wilson will remain under the watchful eyes of the school librarian, who smiles as she debates whether or not to let the books be checked out.

 

“I haven’t made up my mind yet; they’ll probably be kept in the staff area, visible from the door — look, but don’t touch,” she says. In the meantime, she can share with students some interesting trivia about Woodrow Wilson. 

 

“You do know that Woodrow wasn’t his given name; it was Thomas,” she says. “His mother’s maiden name was Woodrow. He used it to honor her.”

 

          Howell hopes to honor some people herself — the students who presented the gift — by adding a special label to the inside cover of each volume. 

 

Last year’s senior class had already raised money to buy a new marquee to replace the old sign in the school’s parking lot, when one parent suggested something extra to commemorate Woodrow’s 75th anniversary. 

 

“It occurred to me that there was probably a Presidential Library that might have something for us,” says parent Claire Hale.

 

A visit to the internet led Hale to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Va. , Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace. And a few emails later, the donation was offered and accepted, and the boxes packed and shipped to Dallas .

 

And the rest, as they say, is history.

 


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