Remembrance of things past

T.M. Roberts Elementary seeks to solve time capsule mystery.

The students and staff at T.M. Roberts Elementary are on a wild goose chase, tearing apart the school in search of time capsules that may or may not exist.

The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary on November 30, marking a half century of education. Staff have turned up one time capsule already in an unassuming sealed bucket, packed with goodies perfectly preserved for the school’s golden jubilee.

On November 21, Principal Christine McKie found herself anxiously awaiting as the school’s plumber waded into the basement below the girl’s washroom in search of a time capsule that was rumoured to have been there. He emerged empty handed, but eager to continue the search.

“The time capsule being under the girl’s washroom floor is an urban myth,” McKie said.

The students are buzzing, and helpful maintenance staff are digging around in the underbelly of the school, behind panels and more searching for the lost capsules.

Former staff including Grade 5 teacher Jack Sandburg have been touring the school trying to find hints that could help in the search. Sandburg found the task difficult, as so much has changed in the building since he retired in 2001.

“The kids are very excited,” McKie said.

All the while, staff, the school’s Parent Advisory Council and Grade 6 Leadership Group are planning the ultimate birthday party for their school. McKie said the celebration will take place on the anniversary of the school’s grand opening on November 30, and former staff are welcome to attend for cake and tea. During an assembly, the students will finally peer into the time capsule to reveal its contents.

McKie plans to have a document camera set up so all students will get to see the contents as they are removed piece by piece. She already spotted one item in the bucket: a toothbrush with a note attached to it. Apparently all the students who submitted items on the grand opening that happened on November 30, 1962 to go into the capsule were asked to bring an item that was important to them, and write a note to attach to it.

After the big reveal, the students will participate in the best birthday party ever, complete with Pin the Tail on the Twister (after the school’s mascot), Musical Chairs, face painting and more.

The PAC will be brining a big birthday cake for everyone to share and photos are being collected by the Leadership Group to display.

“We’re celebrating it like a kid’s birthday party,” McKie said.

Once the capsule is opened and the items are revealed, they will rotate through each classroom and teachers will talk with the students about why those items were important to the students in the 1960s. They will then compare them to what students believe is important now, and how that has changed in 50 years. The students will create their own time capsule to be stored in the school for the 100th anniversary of the building.

McKie also wants to remember the school’s namesake on the anniversary. Mayor Thomas Mason Roberts passed away on July 25, 1943 and the school was constructed and dedicated to the well-respected former mayor in 1962. McKie wants the students to know why the school was named after him and his contributions to the city during his mayorship.

See the Townsman later this week for a historic look at T.M. Roberts Elementary.