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Mirror Lakes Elementary opens time capsule from 15 years ago

May 22, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

There was a hive of activity at Mirror Lakes Elementary School last week when fourth and fifth graders, teachers, students from 15 years ago, retired teachers who taught there 15 years ago along with its principal then, Allen Humfleet, gathered in the library to open a time capsule sealed up by students in May of 1998.

The school and its Parents Teachers Association worked with students to decide what they would put in the time capsule and the kids and their parents agreed to seal it up, put it up on a shelf in the library with a note on it to remind today's school students to open it up 15 years later.

Allen Humfleet was the principal back then and he and his wife were on hand last week to discover what the kids and teachers had left inside. Nobody could remember, or at least those retired teachers and staff members who came back for the excitement, about what had been put in the time capsule.

Article Photos

Young students looking on are from the fourth and fifth grade of Mirror Lakes Elementary School last week when a time capsule was opened 15 years after the school was first opened.

In a story in The Citizen on May 8, 1998, Humfleet had said the time capsule was about three feet long and its diameter was about five or six inches. And it was to be sealed with plumber's glue and once sealed, Humfleet said it could be opened only with a saw.

But Humfleet apparently forgot how it was to be opened. He hadn't remembered the saw idea. So in the morning of May 15, the library was filled with eager onlookers and Humfleet with today's principal, Susan Zellers, looking on, watched Humfleet draw a deep breath and with all his might, twisted the top off. It took a few minutes, but it proved that the former principal still had some power left in his hands. Everyone clapped.

No saw was needed, but nobody had remembered.

Some of the teachers and staff members who were on hand who were employed at the school back in 1998. They returned for the excitement and excited they were as they inspected each and every item, recalling memories that had been forgotten.

Those retired teachers and staff members included, in addition to Humfleet, the first principal of Mirror Lakes Elementary School, Tonya Knight, Jo Magyar, Debbie VonStein, Sue Dunn, Julie Yennerell, Sandy Mercurio, the original school secretary; Diane Schrader, Nancy Buscaka and Susie Peters.

Fifteen years may not be a long time, but it is surprising what was well-known and popular with everyone who had a computer was a three by five-inch floppy disk with photos of students.

Younger students today didn't have any idea of what it was and it even surprised some of the staff when they looked at it.

"Oh, this is one of the floppy disks that we all used back then because it was there was to save things on and it had very little memory," one of the former teachers laughed.

"How would we ever be able to use it today because the computers don't have slots for floppy disks," another one commented. Then someone in the crowd said you could buy an attachment at some stores and plug it into your computer so you can call up old floppy disks.

Then much to the surprise of everyone was an old, or at least 15-year-old VHS tape which also has been replaced already a few times, thanks to modern technology.

"How are we going to play this thing?" someone asked. Within the hour, school personnel found an old VCR player and it miraculously played the tape which showed many members of the fifth grade at the school, each being introduced. Polly Keiley, a teaching specialist, had recorded the tape.

You can hardly find a tape player today so it was suggested that someone save the tape onto a USB storage device and be saved for another 15 years. Even CDs may be on the way out, some say, so a USB device with all the memory anyone needs, can easily save the recorded tape.

Also on hand for the festive-like atmosphere were Daniel Platas, 26, and Kyle Watkins, 26, both 5th graders back when Mirror Lakes opened and were in the library the day the time capsule was sealed. They found a poster they may have helped put into the capsule and proudly unfolded it for all the picture takers.

The students invited to the gathering were members of the Student Council and other organizations at the school. And they will be planning a project to fill yet another time capsule and fill it with things from today. With school coming to a fast end this week, the project will likely be taken on next school year.

The school's principal said the items in the time capsule will likely be bagged up and locked up in the safe so the time capsule can be used again by a new crop of students.

Andrew Loggins, 11, a fourth grade student, said he was having fun seeing all the old photos coming out of the time capsule. They were of classes 15 years ago showing students with their teachers. Humfleet had said back then that most of the students would be working or at an age of just finishing college.

Ashley Fussell, 11, another fourth grader, said she really enjoyed looking at the old yearbook. She said she wants to be a fashion designer someday.

And Gregory Leaeandowski, 9, said "It's cool."

"I love seeing the old photos of the teachers who are still here. His plans for the future, 15 years from now, to be on his way to becoming a professional football player, the same plans for Loggins, who spoke first.

Humfleet opened the school in the Mirror Lakes area of Lehigh. It was the third elementary school opened after several years with only two schools Sunshine Elementary and Lehigh Elementary.

Today there are several elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school in Lehigh and nearby Riverdale where Lehigh students attend.

What else was in the time capsule? Photos of different classes, notes from some of the students and teachers. But there was yet another mystery pulled out.

An allen wrench.

What in the world would we have put an allen wrench in the time capsule, Humfleet mumbled. No answer and everyone looked on with no answer

"Oh, of course, we had all this furniture delivered to the school and the desks and chairs had to be assembled and I think as I now remember, the allen wrench was pretty much the only or the most important tool that was used for assembly," Humfleet laughed. After retirement, Humfleet a few years later, was asked to open up the River Hall Elementary School in 2006, where he continued to work for three years.

"I'm finally retired now," he laughed. "It was great fun to come back and see the mysteries we all had forgotten. It brought back some good times for our new elementary school at that time."



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