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Time capsule offers Saint James School students glimpse of past

Contributed by Karen Corpora, Catholic Spirit Correspondent


In these days of social media like Facebook and Twitter, the students of St. James School looked back and checked out some posts and tweets from the past.


On March 29, the entire student body gathered to see what their peers from 25 years ago left for them in a time capsule buried next to the then newly built addition to the school.


The capsule, which was buried in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week activities in January 1992, was mentioned in the Bernardsville News: “On Thursday students were asked to consider their place in the school’s history at a time of expansion at the school as a new gymnasium wing is under construction.”


The time capsule was buried under a rock next to the school gymnasium by the class of 1992 to commemorate the completion of the gym. The rock contained a plaque with an inscription requesting that the capsule be unveiled by the class of 2017.


Before the time capsule was unearthed, Mary Killian, the School Operations Liaison who orchestrated the event, said, “Both my children went here. I was a parent here for 16 years.”


Although her children did not attend the school at the time the capsule was buried, she commented, “I remember as a parent I would walk past this rock and I’d say, ‘Oh, 2017.’ “When they said this is the year, it brought back the memory of looking at the rock and wondering what was inside.”


Physical education teacher Liz Schmidt was a third-grade student at St. James when the capsule was buried. She remembered students from each class putting something into it but was unsure what her class members had contributed. “I am really excited to see it. I think our teacher had us each write something to put in,” said Schmidt, who is a lifetime member of St. James Parish. “It’s a lot of fun to come back in this capacity. I think the kids are excited about today. I know I am.”


Moira Heinold, who teaches Spanish, said she has been teaching since the time capsule was buried. “This is so exciting. Twenty five years ago my children were at this school,” she said.


When asked what she thought was buried she said, “I’m thinking some current events, mementoes, class pictures or activities the students created. I’m excited that I might be able to see something that my children made.”


There was a buildup of anticipation to the unearthing of the time capsule. Because of inclement weather, the event had been postponed twice. When the unearthing was finally held, students squealed and crowded around to see what was being pulled from the time capsule, which was made of PVC pipe. John Falcone, a social studies teacher, volunteered to dig up the capsule. The rock marking the spot had to be removed by heavy equipment because of the weight.


“I offered to dig up the capsule and my eighth grade has volunteered to do research work on everything that is pulled out of there,” he said. “Today, we are going to get a sneak peek of what’s inside. Hopefully, there will be some good stuff in there.”


Because of a crack at the bottom of the pipe, water seeped in and some

of the items were damp. In the week following the unearthing, all the items contained in the capsule were placed on display in the school gym so that students would be able to see what the capsule contained.


Msgr. Sylvester J. Cronin, pastor, began the ceremony with a reading from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: there is an appointed time for everything. “Today we come to remember the people who were here 25 years ago and we look forward to the next 25 years. This was a wonderful moment in the history of the parish and the history of our school.


“It helps the kids to understand that the world is much bigger and we have a lot of work to do. We are preparing the children well to be good Catholic men and women in this world.”


The hole from the time capsule was left open so that memorabilia from the 150th anniversary of the church/school, which was held in 2015, could be buried there. At the present time, there is no word as to the duration that the items will remain buried or if any items from the current student body will accompany the mementos. A new plaque will replace the current one on the rock. Items found in the time capsule include:

  • Letters from former students to the current third-grade students telling them about their experience at St. James and asking them to reach out to them when they read the notes.
  • Drawings about what they liked about St. James
  • A swatch of the uniform material at that time
  • TV guide
  • Historical type cards with pictures of Operation Desert Storm military leaders on them, including Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., Colin Powell and Dick Cheney
  • Don Mattingly baseball card
  • Class photos
  • DARE T-shirt
  • YM Magazine
Click here to see photos of the event and here to watch a video slide show of the dig.