The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 10, 2013

Former Kendall Valley students return to unearth time capsules

By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 — While some might say, “Don’t go digging up the past,” 25 former classmates went after it with shovels.

Ten years ago, Susan LaMarre’s fifth grade class buried time capsules at Kendall Valley Elementary School, now North Stanly Middle School.

The group recently went to dig it up.

“It’s down there deep,” LaMarre told her now 20-year-old students Ryan Shank and Hunter Carter as they dug about four feet down.

“We have a detailed map. It should be right here,” LaMarre said.

While Shank and Carter kept digging, more and more classmates arrived, jumped over the ditch and walked to the edge of the woods where the capsule was buried.

“I can’t really remember what I put in there,” Dewayne Housen told his former classmate John Smith.

“I can’t really remember either,” Smith said

By the time Carter’s shovel hit something solid, 25 of 32 students from LaMarre’s 2003 fifth-grade had gathered around to remember a piece of their past.

“I think that’s it,” Shank said as Carter’s shovel hit something again.

A few minutes later they pulled out a tarp containing two metal cylinders in which each student had placed a plastic bag of papers, letters and other trinkets.

Both capsules were crushed.

“I can’t believe it. I researched how to do this and everything,” LaMarre said as she pulled out dripping papers and muddy bags from the collapsed metal containers.

“I’m sorry guys.”

But LaMarre’s former fifth-grade students told her there was nothing to be sorry about.

“It’s just impressive that you got us all together,” Housen said.

While LaMarre distributed muddy bags, the former classmates gathered around in groups talking.

They shared about colleges they were going to, jobs they were working, even families they were starting.

“All those playground politics don’t exist anymore,” Alex Humber, now attending Appalachian State University, said.

“I think after you get out in the world some, you start to see things differently.”

Whether they were studying nursing or forestry, living in Kansas City or Albemarle, throwing jav-elins for the varsity track team or serving up coffee at the local coffee shop, everyone had a story to share.

“I’m studying medical sonography at South Piedmont,” Melissa Stallings said.

“I’ve moved up to Kansas ... done some church plants overseas,” Housen said.

“They’re all so successful,” LaMarre said.

“And so many of them came out today. I think that’s what touched me the most. That they all came back.”

Despite a little mud, several students eventually delved into their bags.

Cara Mason, Stallings and Brittany Cline sat together on the sidewalk and carefully pulled apart wet pages and pictures.

“I certainly thought a lot of myself,” Stallings said as she salvaged a note to herself that read “I am smart.”

“Cara, look, here’s a list of my friends and you’re not on it,” Cline said.

Mason just laughed.

Inside other bags students found mood rings and cassette tapes, lucky pencils and pocket dictionaries, finger skateboards and in one bag a little cash.

“Now that was thinking ahead,” LaMarre said.

Chris Hildreth pulled out a football card, Bible literature and an American flag.

“Well that about sums it up right there. America, Jesus and Peyton Manning,” he said.

But the one item at least half of the kids seemed to have in their bags was the book “Frindle.”

“We read ‘Frindle’ in class. It’s sort of where the idea for the time capsule came from,” LaMarre said.

In “Frindle,” the main character’s teacher gives him a letter she wrote him 10 years ago.

“They thought that was a neat idea and they wanted to do something like that. That’s how it all got started,” LaMarre said.

Like the teacher in “Frindle,” LaMarre wrote a letter to her class, and while nobody was able to salvage their copy of the letter from the soggy plastic bags, LaMarre was smart enough to have a nice dry copy on hand.

After they went inside to watch a DVD of themselves preparing to bury the time capsule 10 years ago, LaMarre read them the letter she wrote.

“I swear I am not an emotional person,” she said, tearing up despite herself.

“This doesn’t happen with me. I think it’s just seeing all of you here. I can’t believe so many of you showed up.”

After finishing up the letter she looked out on the entire class, which included her own daughter, Cassady, and told them, “I think you’ve all chosen the right road. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Soon after the DVD was rolling and everyone was laughing at the antics of their younger selves as they pretended to be news reporters and talk show hosts.

“I can’t say things have turned out the way I expected because really I don’t think I was expecting anything back then. But I’d have to say I’m happy with the way things turned out,” Forrest Johnson said.

“Things are definitely different,” Carter added.

“But after seeing everybody, it’s almost like we never left.”

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynews