CARMEL VALLEY — Paula Intravaia’s fourth-grade class recently ended a unit of study inspired by John Lennon’s “Imagine” by singing the song as it was played on a guitar once owned by the former Beatle.
Each of her students from Carmel Del Mar Elementary School was then photographed holding the instrument, which had been missing for more than 50 years.
“I touched a piece of history,” Faith Bigelow said.
“It’s like we were singing with John Lennon again like we did in the ‘Imagine’ UNICEF video project with Yoko Ono,” Nesma Aziz said.
“Your kindness creates a monument that lasts forever made by our memories of holding this guitar,” added Izzy Lenart, who was inspired by a quote she read in the novel “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.
With help from Intravaia’s husband, Marc, the guitar was discovered in San Diego last year.
According to reports, Lennon used the 1962 J-160E Gibson acoustic to record early hits such as “P.S. I Love You” and by “Love Me Do.”
For the next year he continued using it on many other recordings that required an acoustic guitar, and played it while writing songs such as “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “All My Loving.”
In December 1963 the guitar went missing during the band’s Finsbury Park Christmas Show in London.
About six years later area resident John McCaw bought the instrument from a friend — who purchased it in a San Diego guitar shop in the mid-1960s — for a few hundred dollars.
Last year, based on the serial number and photos of the guitar in “Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments, From Stage to Studio,” a book by Andy Babiuk, he and Marc Intravaia began putting the pieces together.
They contacted the author, who said he frequently gets calls and emails from people claiming to have instruments owned by The Beatles.
He said 99 percent of the time they don’t pan out but McCaw’s story “was intriguing,” he has said in interviews.
He examined the guitar and was able to match the wood grain in the spruce top to photos of Lennon playing it with The Beatles in the early ’60s. He said wood grain is like a fingerprint, “no two are the same, and without a doubt it is a match.”
Intravaia’s 28 students collaborated to make a multi-disciplinary, stop-motion animation video in December for the “Imagine” project for UNICEF’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
They studied the lyrics of “Imagine” and then developed a story line titled “Imaginanimation,” Intravaia said.
Scene one was featured in the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Young Art 2015: Visualizing Music” exhibition.
Lennon’s guitar will be on display at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, until June 29, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles from July 2 to Sept. 7 and Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills beginning Nov. 2.
It is expected to bring in up to $800,000 when it is sold at Julien’s Auctions Icons & Idols: Rock n’ Roll two-day event that begins Nov. 6.
McCaw and Intravaia’s husband brought the guitar to Carmel Del Mar Elementary on May 21 just before its significance was announced.
“My students were so moved by the McCaws’ generosity in providing such a rare experience,” Paula Intravaia said.
“I wanted to collect money to buy him a new guitar since his will be sold at auction after going to museums this summer,” student Yaar Fux said.