Lawrence high schools offer to restore photos damaged in storm

photo by: Jackson Barton

Lawrence High School graphic design teacher Jennifer Dixon-Perkins, left, and journalism adviser Barbara Tholen discuss restoring damaged photos in an LHS computer lab on May 31, 2019.

Emerging from his basement to find large portions of his home destroyed by an EF-4 tornado, Lawrence High School senior Daniel Davidson notified his yearbook teacher, Barbara Tholen, that he would be unable to help finish the spring section. While brainstorming how to help Davidson, Tholen said she saw an opportunity to help the community by restoring irreplaceable photos damaged in the storm.

“Those tangible things that remind you of phases of your life are important,” Tholen said. “So hopefully we can restore some of that for people who lost them.”

When their classes resume in the fall, graphic design students at Free State and Lawrence High will work to digitally restore photographs damaged by Tuesday’s storm. A photo repair request form is located on the Lawrence Public Schools website.

Tholen said she wanted to alert tornado victims as soon as possible because of the small window when people decide what to keep and what to dispose of.

“Hopefully when they’re sorting through stuff they don’t have to pitch everything that’s damaged, especially if it’s meaningful,” Tholen said.

When Tholen proposed the project to Free State and LHS graphic design teachers Michelle Salmans and Jennifer Dixon-Perkins, both agreed to work the project into their students’ curriculum.

“I’m constantly trying to find ways for students to be doing something in my class that’s … applicable to real world situations,” Salmans said. “They’ll take (their assignments) even more seriously when they’re doing something for someone else … to give them back something they lost.”

Dixon-Perkins said personal items such as photographs are irreplaceable, unlike other items, and can provide a sense of normality and continuity after a catastrophe.

“I have the only picture in existence of my own grandmother from when she was a child,” Dixon-Perkins said. “If that were to get lost or damaged, there would be nothing left.”

Tholen said families could turn in their damaged, dry photographs either to school offices or to mailing addresses listed on the form.

For participants dropping their photos off at Free State, parking is only available on the west side of the building because of construction.

The digital restoration is free, but Tholen is unsure how long it will take to return a restored digital file to every participant.

Free State senior Greta Hayden saw a post about the project on Salman’s class Instagram. She said she wanted to help even if she was not sure of her own restoration skills.

“Photos are so sentimental,” Hayden said. “I just want to help people have that back again.”

More coverage of the tornado aftermath

June 1 — ‘All I know is her name’: Ottawa resident injured in tornado rescued by stranger

May 31 — ‘It was like walking through a nightmare’: Eudora woman, 88, survives tornado that wiped out home of over 40 years

May 31 — Photo gallery: Aerial tour of tornado devastation near Lawrence, Eudora and Linwood

May 30 — Governor views 30-plus miles of Kansas tornado damage

May 30 — Crews descend on northeast Kansas to restore electricity after tornado

May 29 — ‘I’m lucky’: Hard-hit Linwood residents reflect on disaster

May 29 — Tornado news and notes: Pendletons clean up heavy damage on farm east of Lawrence

May 29 — Tornado news and notes: When sirens sound, some businesses lock up — know where to seek shelter

May 29 — County’s largest tornado in decades injured 17 people, damaged more than 60 homes, officials say


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