Captured in time

by Marly Fausz

From extremes, like hot dog stands in the hallways to practical fixes, like larger bathrooms and a new roof that does not leak, were among predictions sealed away in a student time capsule for Curtis Elementary 23 years ago.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, Curtis Elementary has had a facelift with an addition that upgraded the administration offices, added eight classrooms and two restrooms. Although bathrooms are not bigger, there are more facilities.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the school being named Curtis Elementary, the capsule has been opened and its contents will be part of a program inviting current and past students to celebrate the past and the future of the school.

Curtis Elementary started receiving phone calls earlier this year from past students inquiring about the time capsule. This launched the creation of the Time Capsule Reunion Committee. Principal Susan Pereira, Assistant Principal Lindsay Porzio and Brenda Bush have been hard at work reviewing the contents, contacting students and past teachers who submitted items and planning the upcoming reunion culmination on Tuesday, November 19 at 6:30 p.m.

“My favorite part about planning this event has been the interest people are showing in it,” said Assistant Principal Porzio. “It shows what a great school Curtis is.”

Barbara Bush, the secretary for Curtis for the past 27 years, predicted that every school would have a fax machine by 2013, but has seen much more change since 1990 including the installation of air conditioning.

“I remember bringing my lawn mower from home and taking turns to mow the front entrance to help it look better,” said Bush. “We owe a lot of credit for our beautiful grounds to Chesterfield Parks and Recreations now that they have taken over the maintenance.”

Bush’s daughter, Amber (Bush) Kuper, predicted that students would not be writing in 2013, only using computers. While there was a computer lab in 1990, Kuper’s prediction was quite close as every classroom has a computer, the teachers all have personal laptops and there are now two computer labs. Most students from the ‘90s remember playing Oregon Trail and learning basic typing skills on the older Apple computers.

“I am proud of the fourth-grade-me for predicting that all students would be using computers in 2013,” said Kuper.  “As a teacher now [at Salem Middle School], I see what an important role computers have in education and in just a few years we will be very close to having a one-to-one computing device for every student.”

Kuper says it’s hard to imagine what schools will be like in another 23 years, but believes technology will be in the forefront and that by 2036, students will probably have micro-computing devices that can formulate individualized school work for each student and provide instant feedback.  

The event will include a short PTA meeting, third grade students singing to honor veterans and a video presentation featuring former Principal Tellow, students speaking of “the way it was,” and teachers (past and present) sharing how things have changed since 1990. Special guests have been invited to attend, including teachers and administration who were on staff in 1990.

In addition to the 2013 predictions, ‘90s students wrote letters to future students about their favorite activities, books and other likes. The late Garrett Price, who passed away in December 2006, left behind a note about his favorite book: The Guinness Book of World Records. The letter was given to his surviving wife Mary Albert and children Brittany and Carter Price. For some, the time capsule has helped memorialize those lost over the past 23 years.

Current fifth graders have been asked to respond to students who wrote letters about “the way it was” in 1990 with information about themselves, how times have changed and what they think the future will be like in 2038. Curtis will bury another time capsule to be opened in another 25 years for the 75th anniversary.

Although the elementary school opened in 1959 as Chester Elementary School, C.E Curtis Elementary was renamed in 1963 to honor education advocate and member of the Bermuda District School Board, Clarence Curtis. He was known for his work and dedication in making available the school buildings and education system enjoyed by Chesterfield in 1963. His photograph still hangs in the school.

The Time Capsule Reunion celebrates this 50th anniversary and will remind the community of the importance of primary education then and now. Join current and past students and administration next Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. for the celebration.

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