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Teens help younger students appreciate Oklahoma history

High school volunteers work to raise money so younger students can visit the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum for free. It helps the younger students learn important facts, like that Tom Stafford was an astronaut, not a scuba diver.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: October 27, 2010 at 11:58 am •  Published: October 27, 2010

"Can everybody hear my voice?" Meredith Knowles announced above the din of excited school kids. The "yes" reply was drawn out and loud. Knowles, museum services manager, divvied up the students into small tour groups and led the pack inside.

The students carried pencils and clip boards with worksheets.

They looked like tiny taskmasters.

"This is fun!" Makenzie Tart whispered to her friend, hugging her clip board and looking like she was trying very hard not to run with excitement.

The most popular stop on the tour was the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is a bright, translucent blue wall. This was especially relevant to a couple boys whose favorite color is blue. I'm pretty sure this convinced them to put their lives on track to be listed on this wall. They were really, really excited about the color blue.

Kids looked for famous names on the wall and surveyed at all the years dating back to 1928.

"2001 — that's when I was born!" one girl squealed excitedly. I immediately felt old.

My favorite stop was the Bust Garden, which seems like the name of something you'd find at Oktoberfest.

Knowles told the students stories about Jim Thorpe, Sequoyah and other famous folks crafted in metal. They asked questions and made notes on their little clipboards.

The students poked their heads over a statue of a pair of shoulders and said what they'd like to be famous for. They wanted to be psychologists and police officers, teachers and veterinarians.

Excelling in any field can land you in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, Knowles said. The kids listened quietly. You don't have to be a football star or a governor or a billionaire. You don't have to be rich or famous. You have to make the world a better place in your own way.

Whether you're an astronaut or a scuba diver.