Central Manitoulin Public School opens time capsule from 1992

    Members of the Central Manitoulin Public School Grade 6 class of 1992 pose with teacher Mark Olacke and former CMPS Principal Fern Patterson following the opening of the 25-year-old time capsule they had prepared. The day held plenty of laughter, and a more than a few tears for those who have passed far too young. The time capsule had languished in the principal’s office for the past quarter century. photos by Michael Erskine

    MINDEMOYA—The time capsule built by Central Manitoulin Public School teacher Mark Olacke’s 1992 Grade 6 class has spent the last quarter century surviving a tenuous journey from library to broom closet to principal’s office, and tracking it down in the end required a bit of sleuthing, but at 3 pm last Saturday, former students, teachers and family members gathered in the school gym to unbox the messages sent forward in time.

    “It’s like something out of Doctor Who,” quipped former student Logan Schinbeckler, who along with a large number of his former classmates was on hand for the opening.

    “We didn’t bury it because we didn’t want to have to deal with water and bugs and such,” recalled Mr. Olacke, “so we put it in a plastic storage box and stashed it somewhere in the school.”

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    Mr. Olacke readily admitted he had forgotten all about the time capsule until he was reminded by someone that it existed. “I thought ‘oh my,’ I wonder what ever happened to that,” he laughed. A phone call and some digging about the nooks and crannies in the school uncovered the blue plastic storage container languishing quietly in a corner of the principal’s office.

    Teacher Mark Olacke holds up a copy of The Manitoulin Expositor that had been deposited by Grade 6 students in the 1992 time capsule at Central Manitoulin Public School.

    Former Principal Fern Patterson was on hand for the unveiling and shared jovial banter with her former staff member as the event drew on.

    Mr. Olacke gave special thanks to Andrea Tann for her organization skills (including buying the memory tree and providing a fruit tray and water, Chris Kloestra (for his telecommunications skills, i.e. Facebook notifications to former students), his wife Judy Olacke for the securing the use of the gym (and baking delicious chocolate chip cookies) and custodian Bob Phillips, as well as the Rainbow District School Board and CMPS.

    “Bob Phillips really deserves credit,” said RDSB Trustee Larry Killens, who was on hand for the event. “He volunteered to come in on Canada Day to help make this happen.”

    As befitting an event held on Canada Day, the assembly sang a rousing rendition of O Canada before getting down to the serious business of laughing through the time capsule discoveries.

    Before the merriment, however, Mr. Olacke read out the class list for 1991/92 before calling for a moment of silence for four students and two staff members who had passed on. His voice quavering with emotion, Mr. Olacke called out the roll of those who had passed on “Jason Maurice, Mary Ann Davis, Phillip Moulton and Jason McDermid, Myrna Clarke and Adeleine Moulton, you are still with us as we open this capsule.”

    CMPS teacher Mark Olacke hoists the just-opened time capsule up while Rainbow District School Board trustee Larry Killens snaps a shot.

    The crowd drew close as Mr. Olacke called on family members of two of the students who had been tragically lost to unlatch the tape binding the box closed.

    The items enclosed in the time capsule ranged from the mundane to those which might lead to a hasty departure from the school property if brought in by a student today. A plastic water pistol, a Molson Canadian beer bottle came out of the bin, along with an Archie comic, copies of both The Manitoulin Expositor and the Recorder, a Manitoulin tourism lure magazine, a playbill for ‘Arsenic and Old Lace,’ lists of students’ best guesses on “who would marry who” (read to much laughter) as well as Mr. Olacke’s own prognostications (none of which proved prescient).

    Toys, a coin, a Pepsi can, preserved leaves, and, as a precaution against potential future famine, plenty of seeds.

    Following the laughter and sharing of memories and stories, the assembly gathered outside for the planting of a “memory tree” in honour of those students who had passed on.