Sometime during their 8th grade year, I would have them write letters to themselves, describing who they were at that point in time. They would also predict what high school would be like, what sports they'd play, people they'd like, etc.
With some classes, we even made a video tape of them interviewing each other.
They were also invited to put anything (no food!) they wanted into the time capsule along with their sealed letters.
Once the stuff was all together, we put it in a box, taped it shut, labeled it, and in my closet it went.
It was not to be opened until May of their senior year just before they graduated.
They always asked ...
"Will you read our stuff?"
No. That's why you are sealing your letters in envelopes.
"What if you die?"
Then just ask my wife for the box when it's time.
"What if we move?"
Then you won't be here when we open it.
"What if you lose the box?"
But then ... I did.
I lost the box for the class of 1998 and when May of that year rolled around ... I had to tell them I could not find it.
God, I hate to disappoint kids. I took it harder than they did as they were all caught up in graduation and the end of the trail. For me, it was a stupid, stupid failure.
It bothered me enough, that I quit doing the project with later classes.
And then ... years later, I found the box.
I had broken my storage routine and placed it in a different location from all the other time capsule boxes ... and paid the price.
It's a small community and the 1998 class president just happens to work at the courthouse now, so for several years, I've been reminding her that I have their box and when they have their 10 year reunion, I wanted to make amends and bring it to them.
She was happy to oblige.
The Class of 1998 Ten Year Reunion was last Friday night and I showed up with the box and a video tape. Those 8th graders are all around 28 now and many had children of their own running around the school cafeteria while their parents ate and reminisced.
After dinner, they gathered around the dusty old box, opened it up, and passed around 14 year old letters to themselves.It was a sweet moment. I stayed for the box opening, but Junior's football game was starting, so I left them to watch their 14 year old video tape on their own. (I had previewed it anyway to make sure it still worked ... it did ... what a hoot!")
When I found the box a few years ago, and the flood of relief finally subsided, I started the project up again.
In my school closet, 3 time capsules sit on a shelf, percolating, curing, and waiting for May of various years to come.
I know what you are thinking ... what if I lose them?
Trust me, I won't.