A trip down memory lane


TORRINGTON – They hadn’t been together as a full class for about a decade.
They remembered being a tight group of friends when they were all in Shannon McCafferty’s second-grade class at Lincoln Elementary here during the 2006-07 school year.
“We were all super close in that class,” Keely Schwartzkopf recalled Wednesday as the students gathered in the lobby of their former school.
It wasn’t just nostalgia that brought the group of now-senior students together this week. Instead of planning graduation parties, looking over college information or just relaxing on a mild, sunny Wyoming afternoon, the students returned to reconnect with a piece of their past.
They were searching for their class time capsule, a white, plastic bucket filled with letters and trinkets they’d buried more than a decade ago in a corner near the playground at the school. While most of the students came from Torrington High School, Anthony Mendoza made the trip from Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, where he’s getting ready to graduate Sunday.
“I think it’s going to be really cool, seeing who comes back from our second-grade class, then opening the time capsule and seeing what we buried,” Mendoza said. “I
don’t remember.
“I probably wrote something really stupid,” he said. “But I’m just going to read it, have a lot of laughs and have a good time.”
Their teacher, Shannon McCafferty, who’s now teaching in Denver, Colo., initiated the project. It was the second and final time she had her students assemble a time capsule and bury it at their school for their older selves.
“Time capsules are a part of history,” McCafferty said in a telephone interview from Denver on Wednesday. “People were talking a lot about them in the news. I decided why not start one with the little ones?”
Assembling the time capsule with mementoes, which had meaning to the young students, was important. McCafferty also included a newspaper to help them recall the “news of the day,” but the letters and other items the students contributed were the
most vital.
“We put in things that had meaning to an eight-year-old,” McCafferty said. “I did emphasize it would be nice if they parted with something that had meaning, kind of a selfless act at the time, for a child to take something that was a favorite of theirs for the
time capsule.”
There were a handful of false starts, holes dug that yielded nothing but dirt and insects. But, finally, the fourth-time was a charm as the business ends of the shovels wielded by Mendoza and THS senior Trey Rodriguez gave a satisfying “thunk” as they struck the top of the bucket, about a foot below
the surface.
A bit more digging and a lot of prying with shovels and the time capsule was back in the open air. With barely-contained excitement, the students gathered in the shade of a tree they remembered planting near the Lincoln playground and prepared to walk down
memory lane.
And, while the time capsule had been on student’s minds for the past 10 years, they were surprised when they peeled away the tape, pried off the lid and found the items last touched by their own, younger hands.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what I actually buried,” senior Shelbey Prusia said. “I want to see what second-grade Shelbey
was like.
“She wasn’t much different from how she is now,” Prusia said. “Very energetic, very ornery, just loving life. And I’m really excited because we’re graduating now and we’re going to be
gone soon.”
Sadly, the time capsule didn’t survive 10 years underground completely unscathed. Water found a way in despite the student’s best efforts to protect it and some of the paper items were damaged.
But much of what the then-second graders had placed in their time capsule did survive, including a few letters from their
younger selves.
Schwartzkopf, who’d spearheaded the effort to find the time capsule before graduation Sunday, read her letter to her friends: “I’m in second grade now. When I’m in 9th grade, I’ll dig this up and it will
be exciting.”
Despite being unable to attend the unburying, McCafferty did express her pride in her
former students.
“I think they must have been out of school by now,” she said. “That’s even more impressive. They came back on a day they could have been
doing anything.
“I want them to know how proud I am of them,” McCafferty said. “If they follow through with everything in life like they did with this project, they should all be great successes.”


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