The staff and students gathered outside Jefferson Elementary School in Richland didn't know what to expect.
They were about to crack open a time capsule that was hidden behind a cornerstone in 1982, when the school's newest wing debuted.
What could be inside? Perhaps drawings or school work from the now-adult students? Maybe some photos?
Bobbi Buttars, principal of the Richland school, couldn't help but chuckle when the first item came out.
It was a phone book.
"Do you guys know what a phone book is?" she asked the kids, using a megaphone.
Hundreds of little voices hollered back in unison: "No!"
Jefferson is moving to a new building in the fall, and it seemed fitting to open the time capsule ahead of the transition, Buttars said.
The 1982 building isn't going anywhere; it's becoming the district's preschool center. But the school and its students and staffers will be in a new 65,000-square-foot facility on the same central Richland site.
The ceremony Friday drew former teachers and administrators, including Jerry Lane, who was principal in 1982.
Now living in Texas, he called Buttars a while back to alert her to the time capsule.
The 77-year-old traveled to the Tri-Cities to see it opened.
Lane remembers when the time capsule was assembled, but he didn't recall what was placed inside.
"I forgot that we put the phone book in. That was a good one," he said.
The capsule also had a Tri-City brochure, some coins, school board meeting minutes, newspaper articles and other items.
The new Jefferson building is being paid for through a $98 million bond approved by district voters in 2013.
The measure also included replacing Lewis and Clark, Marcus Whitman and Sacajawea elementary schools and building the new Orchard Elementary School and Leona Libby Middle School.
For a time, Jefferson was a source of tension in the district. The 2013 bond proposal originally called for converting it from a K-5 facility into a site for the district's homeschool program. But parents objected, and the school board agreed to change the plan so that Jefferson would remain an elementary school, with improvements made to its oldest wing, dating to 1953.
Eventually, the board decided to rebuild the school. The 1953 wing is set to be demolished.
Buttars said her staff and students are excited about their new building.
They plan to assemble their own time capsule. It'll include work created by the kids, plus the phone book and some other items from the 1982 time capsule. And, of course, a lot of love.
"You can tell by everyone who was here (at the ceremony) how much we love kids. The kids always come first. That's what we have going on right now in the Richland School District— kids always come first," Buttars said.
And that's her hope for the coming years at the school — that the tradition continues, she said.
Lane said much the same thing. He was principal at Jefferson for more than two decades, retiring in the 1990s.
His teachers and other employees poured their hearts into their students. When the next time capsule is opened however many years down the road, "I hope they're doing as good a job teaching kids as my staff did," he said.