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Poole’s Mill Elementary thinks back on unprecedented first year in new time capsule tradition
Time capsule
Kindergarten teacher Savannah McCaskill reads a letter she wrote to future educators about her experience beginning her teaching career in a pandemic. She added the letter to Poole’s Mill Elementary School’s time capsule, which will remain unopened until 2046. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Poole’s Mill Elementary School and Forsyth County Schools leaders closed out the school year Thursday with a ceremony where they gathered items, letters and memories from the school’s inaugural year and placed them into a time capsule.

With school and district leaders, teachers and students in attendance, Principal Paige Andrews felt it was a perfect way to end an unforgettable school year.

FCS Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden agreed, speaking to those in attendance and those watching the ceremony from home via a livestream through the district’s YouTube Channel.

“This has been a very interesting, challenging school year for all of us in Forsyth County,” Bearden said.

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He explained that while the year was difficult, he is proud of the school system’s decision to offer both in-person and virtual education to families, and he believes school leaders, teachers and staff were able to provide a normal school experience for kids this year.

Of course, Bearden said the successful school year would not have been possible without the schools’ teachers this year who worked overtime to make sure students and families had the resources they needed.

“If you haven’t had the opportunity to thank an educator for the job they did this year, please make sure you do so,” Bearden said.

Time capsule
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden asks Arlie Brennan, a Pre-K student at Poole’s Mill, if he can come pick him up at the nursing home when it’s finally time to open the time capsule in 25 years. - photo by Sabrina Kerns
He also attributed Poole’s Mill success this past year to Andrews, who worked to open the school before the start of its first year beginning last August. Through the time capsule, Andrews hopes to share her experiences along with the experiences of students and staff this year with future generations.

The ceremony Thursday also kicked off a new tradition for the district, with Poole’s Mill being the first of many schools down the line to create a time capsule in its inaugural year. Going forward, each new school in the county will hold its own official time capsule ceremony at the end of its first year.

“We’re so excited …. It’s been a pleasure to open such a beautiful school for our community, and we know that our community will be using Poole’s Mill for many, many years to come,” Andrews said.

The time capsule has been registered through the International Time Capsule Society, an organization based in Atlanta that documents time capsule projects from around the world. The district plans to open this capsule in 25 years — in the year 2047.

Knowing how long the capsule will be at the school, Andrews and her team at Poole’s Mill have spent the last month coming up with ideas for what artifacts they could include in it that would encapsulate what it was like to open the school in such an unprecedented year.

She asked a student from each of the grade levels at the school to attend a ceremony and add their own artifacts that they think future Poole’s Mill teachers, students and families should see.

Pre-K student Arlie Brennan added a bag containing a photo of himself standing in front of the school’s pirate ship and his class schedule.

After standing on his tip-toes and adding his bag to the capsule, Bearden bent down and asked, “Arlie, 25 years from now when we open this up, can you come pick me up at the nursing home?”

Meanwhile, kindergartener Vivianna Kouznetsov added depictions of emojis;

First grader Anniston Mendez added a sensory pop-it and a portrait she drew of herself;

Second grader Emerson Tribble added a school shirt;

Third grader Madelyn Hart added photos of all of the classes from her grade level and a letter explaining all of the activities they got to do this school year;

Fourth grader Jesse Starling added Pokémon cards;

And fifth grader Tyhler Rowe added a chorus shirt and a bag of Takis, which are spicy, rolled tortilla chips.

Faculty and administration members also wanted to add their own artifacts to the time capsule, and it was easy for them to decide on one of the first items they would put inside — a face mask. They added both the school’s pirate face masks and plain paper masks along with plastic gloves to remind everyone of the protection staff members had to wear throughout the day.

Time capsule
Poole’s Mill Principal Paige Andrews adds a copy of the August 15-16, 2020, edition of the Forsyth County News to the capsule. The paper features a story from the first day of school when the school’s students walked in to find their classrooms and meet their teachers for the first time. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Aside from reminders of the pandemic, staff members also added photos from the school’s ribbon cutting, fifth grade class and more. They also added school materials such as their first yearbook, code of conduct, State of Schools and a newspaper documenting the first day of school.

Andrews and a first-year teacher, Savannah McCaskill, also added letters that they wrote for future teachers and principals of the school before officially closing the capsule.

Staff members carried the capsule just down the hall from the media center to a cabinet made from wood taken from one of Forsyth County’s first schools. They will bolt the cabinet shut where it will stay for the next 25 years.

Forsyth County Board of Education Vice Chair Wes McCall watched as Andrews closed the cabinet doors, thinking about all of the current students who may one day become teachers and get to see the capsule opened again and remember this moment.

McCaskill closed out the ceremony at Poole’s Mill by reading her letter she included in the capsule for future teachers. She began her teaching career this year at the school, teaching kindergarten.

“Today is our last day of school, and I have teared up countless times thinking about how much love I have for my sweet students,” she said. “By the time the time capsule is opened and this letter is read, my current students will be older than I am right now.

“Despite what a chaotic year it has been in between quarantining, face masks and figuring the whole teaching thing out, I wish my students knew how much joy and laughter they brought me every single day. They are my ‘why’ for teaching. If you ever have a particularly challenging year, remember this — if I can survive my first year teaching kindergarten in a pandemic, you can do anything.”