Matoaka Elementary celebrates 10 years

In 2027, Matoaka Elementary School students will dig a dirty plastic box out of the ground, just outside the garden gate.

They'll open it, finding a mass of drawings and children's notes, a t-shirt and aerial photo of 2017 Matoaka students forming "MES" and "10" on the soccer field.

The school opened in 2007 and for its 10th birthday, principal Andy Jacobs decided to gather student submissions for a time capsule.

"Being able to create a new school 10 years ago and being able to cultivate that culture, I need to think about even beyond me, into the future," Jacobs said. "This begins to represent some of the legacy of what we're doing now, and being able to pass it on to whoever's going to come after us."

On Wednesday, Jacobs took five student council members to the school garden to bury the box.

Jacobs said he would write a note in the school safe to remind anyone in charge of the capsule's whereabouts. It could be dug up anytime, he said, whether that's five or 50 years from now.

The students unanimously agreed 10 years is the appropriate time to wait.

"Ten years because it's the 10-year anniversary," Skylar Montague, 10, said. "They're going to be like, 'wow, this is what our school was like 10 years ago.'"

They wondered whether the Living Wedge — a hall with live reptiles and fish and stuffed mammals — will still be around. Skylar suggested robots will have taken over most jobs, to which the other kids were skeptical.

But everyone agreed technology would still play a large part of learning.

They wondered if kids in 10 years would have fidget spinners — small, hand-held toys held between the thumb and index finger whose blades spin like a fan — and Skylar realized that kids in 2007 may not have even had iPads (they debuted in 2010).

"There's going to be more technology," Cali Kohlman, 11, said. "There will be less tests taken on paper."

Other suggestions were that the building would be bigger or that a college would be built on the baseball field.

Some things may be different, but many of the drawings and notes will connect with future students, they centered on a school staple not being replaced anytime soon: teachers.

That part may not change in 10 or 20 years. Matoaka still has more than 30 staff members who have stuck around since opening day 2007.

"We had the best start up because we really just bonded," teacher Lynn Walls said. "Those of us who have been here 10 years have even deeper relationships."

They watched technology take off, becoming staples in any classroom.

Walls' first-grade class made a paper quilt detailing their favorite parts of Matoaka. They drew teachers, the wedge and the Matoaka Cardinal, their mascot. For first graders, a time capsule can be a hard concept to grasp.

"I think they were all amazed by the actual burial process, but we worked hard at explaining how old they were going to be," Walls said. "The kids in my class are 6 so they'll be 16. They were kind of amazed that the things would still be there in ten years."

She said the principal who digs it up might invite 2017 students to visit. Her students will be high school, and some of student council, who put the box in the ground, will be finishing college.

As they piled dirt on the plastic container, taking turns with the shovel, Skyar wondered if she would see the changes a decade down the road.

"As long as we come back," she said.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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