Joshua St. John inherited important information when he joined Summit Middle School nearly a decade ago: a time capsule hidden under a trophy case near the entrance was to be opened Nov. 1, 2018.
However, the principal said, “there were no instructions on what to do” or how much it might mean to the Southwest Allen County Schools community.
Plans for the unveiling snowballed, resulting in an hourlong, live-streamed ceremony Thursday that involved district administration and Summit students and staff, including former teachers from the school's start in 1993.
“It's really special for a school to come together and recognize its history, to celebrate its present and to make plans to connect in that same way with the future,” St. John said.
Summit plans to create a new time capsule to be opened in 2043.
Band teacher Sue Jehl – one of the few original educators still on staff – remembered making the capsule but said nobody could recall the keepsakes inside. Guesses included Summit apparel, newspapers, yearbooks and 1990s fads, such as pogs and Beanie Babies.
Along with six students, original staff members took turns pulling items from the capsule decorated in school colors: green and gray.
Treasures included newspapers, letters, a 40th anniversary Komets hockey puck, candy promoting the movie “Jurassic Park” and a Dan Quayle poster – an item retrieved by eighth-grader Meghan Kelley that prompted laughter.
Meghan was selected to participate by raffle. She said she enjoyed seeing items from the school's history and watching teachers interact with former colleagues.
Former counselor Sharon Fountaine, now of Green Bay, Wisconsin, said it was “such an honor and privilege” to open Summit, which the educators worked together to make a school.
“We were overwhelmed with this new building,” Fountaine said, recalling how teachers filled the empty school with supplies and learned the layout with students.
Teacher David Force, who remains on staff, recalled touring the site when it was just brick walls and concrete floors. He then described his capsule find: a road atlas.
“That's definitely an antique,” he said.
Jehl recalled Force predicting Summit would be a special place.
“It still is,” she said.
The people made it so, Fountaine said.
“This is such a family,” she said. “... This staff really liked each other.”