CyberFair Project ID: 4972

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Rediscovering a Delaware Treasure: Murals of the Works Progress Administration
Category: 6. Historical Landmarks

School: Smyrna High School
    Smyrna, Delaware, USA

2 students, ages 16 and 17 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 7, 2007. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2007

Classes and Teachers: Rita Fry

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

There’s something about Smyrna. Nearly everyone who comes to Smyrna, DE, the first time tells of being pleasantly surprised by the warm and charming character of the historic downtown, of the friendly citizens and shopkeepers and the gracious residents who open their historic homes each year for the Candlelight Walking Tour. Indeed, Smyrna is a welcoming place. Smyrna is a family town concerned with quality living and historic preservation. With approximately 6000 residents, which includes about 2000 families, Smyrna is a close knit community. The old saying, “If you sneeze on this side of town, someone on the other side will say Bless you!” Is very true. People are drawn to the town by the historic charm of the red bricks, brackets, and lace of Colonials. The village begun on the banks of Duck Creek around 1776 as a small farming and shipping community named Salisbury but popularly known as Duck Creek was renamed Smyrna in 1806, about 70 years later becoming a noted center for grain, peaches and lumber.

2. Summary of Our Project

Some of America’s great painting treasures are not found on art museum walls. Instead, they can be found in more mundane spaces such as post offices and public school buildings. The subjects of the paintings, the color and the compositions allude to another time. Why are these beautiful works of art there? Who painted them? How were they painted and what is their significance?

Nestled in central Delaware is the town of Smyrna. Historically a center of agriculture and the shipping industry the town today boasts business, industry and residential suburban communities as Delaware’s population migrates south. Within the central business area many beautiful historical buildings allude to Smyrna’s rich historical past. One of the most notable buildings is John Bassett Moore Middle School. Originally built in 1922 and restored in 1938 and 1978, the building houses a collection of six murals that have recently been rediscovered as part of the school’s most recent restoration.

In 2000 the Smyrna School District began a massive reconfiguration of schools. Part of the reconfiguration was a complete restoration of John Bassett Moore to its original glory. For generations Smyrna students passed through the building and were familiar with the paintings. However, district officials (some of whom are alumni of the school) believed them to have some historical significance and plans were made to assess the value of the paintings and have them removed during the restoration of the building.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Most of the technology work was completed at home. There was not enough time during school time. After school, we gathered information from people and at the school. We have high speed Internet at home.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Technology is growing so fast. The days of buying a program, and knowing how to use it, are virtually gone. Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop Elements were no exception. Although the programs are user friendly, getting them to do what you want is another thing. Our biggest problem was getting images, audio, and video to be compatible with Dreamweaver. It was all a learning experience, well worth the time.

The project was a data collection effort. Gathering information about the origin and restoration of the local murals was fun. We encountered problems collected images of the restoration process. Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain pictures of the actual restoration of the local Smyrna murals.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Most of the technology obstacles were overcome with a lot of long hours. Being the stubborn individuals that we are, we had to read manuals until we figure out the problem. Our community is a very friendly environment. It was a pleasure to talk with the community to learn the information needed to complete the project.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Delaware’s visual arts content standards were addressed in completing this project.

Students will select and use form, media, techniques, and processes to create works of art to communicate meaning. Students will understand the visual arts in relation to diverse cultures, times, and a places. Students will reflect upon, describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate works of art and design. This project was very interesting. The members of the team and the teacher attended John Bassett Moore school. The murals were magnificient to look at, when we enrolled in that school. It feels good to give back to the community. We feel it has been an honor to celebrate the murals and display them to everyone.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

We used one main computer to create the website. We used a total of three computers to complete the project. Information was gathered separately, and then integrated to form the final product. We utilized cellphones, digital cameras, Dreamweaver 8, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, archived newspapers, books, oral interviews, and the Internet for research.

Without these tools, the project would not have been possible. The computer was the most beneficial. It was the tool that made all the other “little” tools possible.

The most exciting moment in the project was when Adobe Photoshop fused images together. Due to the size of the murals, several images were taken. After the images were uploaded to Photoshop, the Panorama feature was amazing.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Within our small community, the murals are priceless. To complete the project, our character was on the line. Great care was taken to ensure the information would be presented honestly and with the utmost respect. Since the murals were painted in 1936, we were very sensitive about the gender gap. We tried very hard to present an high level of professionalism.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

The impact on the community has been wonderful. So many people in the community remember the murals, but never see them anymore. Interacting with people stirred up a lot of good feelings. It was enjoyable to watch people reminisce with a smile on there face.

The best part of the project is that everyone can see the murals on the Internet, and study the history behind the paintings.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

The district superintendent was wonderful. She graduated from the school years ago. She is the person responsible for the restoration of the murals. She was very knowledgable about the details of the paintings. She knew about the characters displayed and the information in the background. She was also present during the restoration, so she explained the details of conservation project.

The principal of the school gave us a tour of the “new” murals. He showed us things in the paintings most people would miss. He showed us spots that were not painted. He even showed us a spot that had an insect on it when it was originally completed.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

We learned a lot about the origin of our community. We learned about the village that was in our town, before it was called Smyrna.

We also learned a lot about the restoration of artwork. We did not realize the time and energy that goes into perserving history.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4972)

Close this Window