Kennewick elementary school takes a trip through time

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJune 5, 2012 

Jane Webb said she couldn't remember what went into Cascade Elementary School's time capsule in 1982, the year the Kennewick school opened and she started teaching first grade.

"I'm thinking pictures, some letters or notes from students," the second-grade teacher guessed, adding she recalled the time capsule was more a project for the school's upper grades rather than the younger students she taught 30 years ago.

Webb was partly right. There were some letters and notes from students, but there was much more in the slim metal box opened Monday afternoon:

-- A cassette tape put together by fifth-graders with the help of the school's music teacher.

-- An old Cheetos bag with a $1.27 price tag, a relic from a past teacher who loved the snack.

-- A newspaper article with a photo of the school's first principal leaning against a low wall current Principal Chad Foltz has to tell students not to climb on.

The school is set to be completely renovated beginning after school ends next week. Students will move to the district's Fruitland school building for the next year. Bigger classrooms, a dedicated gym and improved infrastructure will greet students and teachers when they return for the 2013-14 school year.

But it won't be the same school, and opening the time capsule provided a glimpse at the school's past and conjured strong feelings for the school and past staff.

Among the adult-submitted items in the capsule were a list of the school's staff in 1982, a school directory and the school's 1982-83 budget, which listed a teacher's annual salary as $5,524.

Student-submitted items made up a large portion of the contents, though. There were cards and notes, a list of students' favorite books which included the works of Shel Silverstein, Wilson Rawls' Where The Red Fern Grows and Roald Dahl's James And The Giant Peach, each of which was met with roaring applause by students.

One student wrote about how on the first day in the school in 1982, students were greeted by classrooms with no desks. The students had to haul the desks into the classrooms from the gym and adjust them themselves.

Adam Griffin, the school's current custodian, wrote his name along with the rest of his kindergarten class in a folder that was inside the capsule.

"Horrible handwriting," he said, laughing. "I have just as bad of handwriting now."

For Mark Walters and Shannon Braun, the capsule's opening gave them a link to their father, Dave Walters. Dave Walters taught at the school from its opening until he retired in 2004, though he was a substitute for years after that.

Foltz said Dave Walters became ill last year and the school worked to open the capsule so he could attend, as he'd always wanted to, but he died Oct. 17, 2011, a day after the 29th anniversary of the school's dedication.

Inside the capsule from his classroom was a list of typed statements from his students with their careful cursive signatures next to them. Foltz gave the document to Mark Walters and Braun, who came over from Western Washington for the day.

"He loved this school, he loved teaching," Braun said.

Several students said they enjoyed the capsule being opened though it didn't contain what they expected.

"I thought it would be money," said second-grader Ethan Weatherbee, 8.

"I thought it would just be pictures," said Ethan's classmate, Avery Reiboldt, 7.

Lorraine Cooper, district spokeswoman, said the walls of the school will remain, but not much else. The gym will be converted into a multipurpose room to be used as a cafeteria and assembly area with a new gym built onto the building. Electrical and air systems will be rebuilt and current technology better integrated.

Not all the students are excited about coming back to a new Cascade next year.

"The second-graders are saying they don't want to leave this school, they like the old Cascade," Webb said. It would seem that while technology and prices and salaries have changed since 1982, feelings for Cascade haven't.

"I am built for kids and they love me," read one note written by a student inside the capsule.

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