Students, faculty, administrators and Board of Education officials gathered in Union City High School’s uncompleted student sanctuary on Tuesday to discuss the future. Not their own futures, but the experiences of their future counterparts, students who will live here and attend this school generations from now.
The reflections were somber yet optimistic, dashed with the hope that in 50 years, Union City will have continued to grow along the same lines as this relatively new high school has.
They all gathered to celebrate the interment of a time capsule that has been filled, throughout the past year, with pieces of Union City’s present. In 2062, it will be opened, and the same objects will be viewed, in perfectly preserved mint condition, but as artifacts from the past.
“It’s really important to us that when it’s opened, it looks like something that was made by a community, a family, not just a group of students,” said Jazmin Albelo, one of three students who served on the school’s Time Capsule Committee.
“It’s really important to us that when it’s opened, it looks like something that was made by a community, a family.” – Jazmin Albelo
Those two schools closed in 2008 to make way for the single, unified Union City High School.
“Just a few years ago, this school didn’t exist,” said Anasofia Trelles, another one of the students on the committee. “But we’ve become a family and I think the time capsule shows that.”
From the ground up
Guidance counselor and former history teacher Christopher Abbato hatched the idea for the time capsule almost a year ago, at the dedication ceremony of the school’s student sanctuary, a triumph of municipal cooperation that will offer students a chance to relax between periods or do homework outside.
“We’ve opened a new school in Union City almost every year for the past few years,” he said, “and I thought we needed to be careful about preserving history even when we open new schools.”
“I think the time capsule is a testimonial to everyone who’s been involved in the construction of this school,” he added.
After bringing the idea to some of his students and working to form a game plan with the school’s History Club, Abbato, Albelo, Trelles, and later Daydu Alfaro began gathering objects to place in the capsule.
“We wanted to represent the students and faculty equally,” said Alfaro. “We wanted it to portray a community.”
And so it was a combined community effort that built it. Donations came from far and wide, from students and teachers, as well as from former students and former faculty. The committee invited students to write letters to future students, and a contest was held to design the logo that would be placed on the capsule.
Four of the letters were chosen to be read aloud by their authors at the ceremony, and all four spoke of bravery, perseverance, and hope. Ariana Ariano challenged the students of the future to make history of their own.
“History is being made in this capsule,” she read. “Make history of your own, and don’t afraid to be great.”
Albelo read a poem she had prepared specially for the ceremony, a copy of which she had placed in the capsule.
“The future is a mystery / but the present is our chance to leave our mark on history,” she wrote. “Our past, present and future are one in the same / and all we can do is hope and aim.”
It was a fitting closing a to a year’s worth of work that culminated on a beautiful afternoon. Just before the capsule was closed, Abbato filled it with several Polaroid photos he had taken throughout the course of the ceremony.
“Ironically Polaroid stopped making these, so Fuji picked up the patent,” he said about the outdated technology. “I can only imagine what they’ll have in 50 years.”
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org