At the end of 2019, Drake Middle School teacher Garden Marantino was looking through school storage when he stumbled upon five boxes, each signed by dozens of students with Sharpie markers. The contents in the box dated back two decades, with letters written by the middle school’s eighth grade class of 1999.
Marantino realized he’d found the school’s 20-year-old time capsule.
The social studies teacher reached out to former Drake US history teacher Deb Pearce, who is now principal at Peck Elementary. It was Pearce’s students who created the time capsules.
“He said, `it’s perfect timing,’” Pearce said, and she agreed. Together with Drake principal Mindi Feir, she and Marantino reached out to former Drake students, inviting them to come celebrate the opening of the time capsule on Jan. 8 at Drake Middle School.
Several former students returned to the school that morning, some for the first time since 1999, and some with children and spouses at their sides.
“I came back for the nostalgia of it. It’s good to see old teachers and old friends,” said former student Nick Delmonico, “and it’s cool to see what we were all worried about at the turn of the century.”
In addition to former students returning to Drake, current students in the school’s leadership program also attended the event.
“It helps you understand the change over time, and it can bring people back together,” said eighth-grader Madison Young.
The Drake grads opened the capsules to find, in the words of Pearce, that “things change over time and things also stay the same.”
Current Drake students recognized the capsule’s Pokémon cards, Beanie Babies, old copies of People magazine and ticket stubs for Toy Story.
“It’s crazy that some of the movies we saw then are still iconic today,” said former student Nate Goodman.
Other items proved more specific to the end of the 20th century: NSYNC merchandise, Tamagotchi toys and letters from former students detailing what they expected the future to hold.
“I don’t have any idea who you are but by the time you read this, I will probably be in my thirties,” read one letter. “I don’t know if you have flying cars. My favorite food is pizza and hopefully you still have it.”
Following the unveiling of the capsule, the group took a tour of the school, which has been renovated significantly since 199, including with the addition of a new wing.
Meanwhile, current students in the leadership program plan to create a new time capsule, complete with letters and items from their class, as well as letters taken from the 1999 capsule, to be opened in 2040, Pearce said.
“In 1999, I wanted my students to realize they had a part in making history and could have an impact on the future,” Pearce said. “To see former students here, it just touches my heart.”
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