WATCH | Visiting Clairemont High School in San Diego, California, you'd never think that a world class historical museum would reside within. But just visit the library and you'll find over 40,000 pieces of presidential memorabilia tucked away.
According to KPBS, Clairemont High's history teacher Jim Fletcher -- who has been teaching at the high school for 27 years -- began collecting pieces when he was a high school student in the 1970s. Later, he also enlisted the help of summer school students to research and request donations for pieces.
Fletcher said he initially used the collection to excite students about history.
“And they ultimately said to me 'Fletch, you should start a museum,'" Fletcher said. "And we turned it around and I said ‘Well, why don’t we start a museum?’ And so I really did, in concert with that group of students.”
With high school students who are bombarded by distractions, history needs to come to the table hot and preferably in flames.
Twenty years later, Fletcher believes the pieces still "get students fired up."
"It really helps if you have something that you can show them that’s 50 years old that they can touch and feel and examine for what it has to offer them,” he said.
The collection consists of a wide variety of items, including unique clothing, campaign buttons and an antique noisemaker.
“You don’t see anything like that anymore and it’s cool that they used to do that and that people were so into the elections and getting to know the presidents like that," said student Emily Vastola. "It’s really awesome.”
Other students say that being able to see and touch some of the pieces has added a new layer of depth to learning about history. Every year about 200 to 300 students use some of the items for their schoolwork.
Fletcher hopes students throughout the school district will be more motivated to learn about history because of the presidential memorabilia.
“It tells us who we were and it helps us figure out who we want to be,” Fletcher said.