In the spring of 1990, Leslie Wilson was in the fifth grade at Mt. Woodson Elementary. At the time, it was a brand new school and, to celebrate its opening, the campus decided to bury a time capsule that would be unearthed 20 years later.
“I remember the excitement of what our class was going to be burying for someone to uncover years later,” she recalls. “At the time it seemed like 20 years was so far away. I also remember thinking I hope that I will know when they unbury it some day; I’d like to be here.”
Now, two decades later, her wish is about to come true. She is a sixth-grade teacher and will be on hand next week as Mt. Woodson celebrates its anniversary by digging up the treasure on Thursday, Nov. 5, to commemorate the event.
“It is one of the first things I tell my students on the first day of school,” said Wilson. “I was proud to be here as a student and have one of the best teachers for fifth/sixth grade at the time (Leanne Plunkett) and to be back here teaching sixth grade with my fellow Mt. Woodson staff couldn’t make me more proud. Our staff works hard and always puts our kids above all else and I wouldn’t want to work at a school that accepted anything less than the best from their teachers and students, and that is without a doubt the Mt. Woodson way.”
The celebration next Thursday will begin at 4:30 p.m. and run until 6 p.m., with the unearthing to take place at 5:30 p.m. Mt. Woodson decided to make it a communitywide event and will be selling food and setting up booths to help earn money for this year’s sixth-grade camp. They are also selling “retro” T-shirts for $7. They are the original Mt. Woodson T-shirts from 1990, but a special saying is on the back.
Teachers Peggy Powell and Leanne Plunkett were sixth-grade teammates in 1990 and they both still teach at Mt. Woodson. They remember the burying of the capsule, and are both very excited about the plans for the big night and the reunions that will no doubt take place. They have been working on the event, along with Wilson, since the beginning of the year, looking for former teachers’ addresses for invitations, putting the information on Facebook, sending invitations to all current students as well as all the schools and the district office.
“We are going to introduce all former employees of the district who were influential in creating Mt. Woodson and setting us on our path to excellence,” Powell said. “We are proud to have made a difference to the children of Ramona for over 20 years and we hope to instill the same values to the students who will be continuing our traditions with the new capsule that will be laid to rest this spring, 2010.”
While they can’t remember what they put in the capsule, they do remember each class got to put something inside as part of the team-building activity. They suspect they will find student reflections and possibly photographs from that year.
“I don’t remember specifically what is in there, but I think it will be really neat to see what we thought was important that first year and what we find is important when we rebury it this year,” said Wilson.
Nicole Brown, also a Mt. Woodson teacher, was in fourth grade when the capsule was buried.
“It is very crazy to be at Mt. Woodson as a teacher 20 years later.,” she said. “I never imagined I would be a teacher digging up what I buried 20 years ago as a fourth grade student. I am very excited to see what is in there, because I can’t even remember what we put in the bags.”
It’s also a bit surreal for Wilson, but what has been the most eye-opening to her throughout this process has been the realization of how many teachers are still involved with Mt. Woodson even after their careers ended.
“For me, it is true testament to Ramona, our schools and our community that so many students and staff that were here 20 years ago are still here either at Mt. Woodson or in the community,” she said. “It is exciting as we build the list of invitees—all the former students, PTA, school board members—to think that so many have actually stayed close and are now raising their family in this community.”
After the time capsule is unearthed, the items will go on display in the library so the public has a chance to view them. Then, come spring, they will fill the time capsule again and seal it for the next 20 years.
And, both Brown and Wilson hope they will be there to celebrate another generation at Mt. Woodson.