After spending a year learning about the history of West Hollywood Elementary, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, students were prepared to uncover some history of their own.
Unfortunately, after more than an hour in the sun and more than 12 holes looking for buried time capsules, all they found were several pennies and other pieces of metal.
“We worked for that hour or so and then just figured they are meant to stay buried for a while,” said West Hollywood Elementary sixth grade teacher Patty Russo.
Throughout the school year, the students at West Hollywood Elementary have participated in many learning activities based on the history of the school and the city of West Hollywood, previously called Sherman.
At an alumni event earlier this year, many graduates of the West Hollywood school recalled burying time capsules under the school’s lawn. One group of alumni remembered a ceremony in 1986, another from 1968, Russo said.
With that, West Hollywood Elementary parent and chair of the centennial events, Tracy Cook, became determined to uncover some real history on school grounds and arranged the event to find the time capsules.
Russo worked with students to produce a yearbook reflecting the school’s 100th anniversary, as well as putting together an archive notebook of materials submitted by alumni.
Students scanned photos and documents into computers and became fluent in the history of West Hollywood forward and backward, Cook said.
“The time capsule is complicated, because no one can remember about where it was planted,” Cook said.
Despite the fact that the capsules’ location are unknown, Russo’s sixth grade students were excited at the prospect of digging up real history.
“[Last week] we had gotten all the big shovels from the storage shed and put them in the back of the room, when I noticed at about lunch time, six of the guys had picked out their shovels and put them by their desks, they were ready to dig.”
Cook brought in a team of parents with metal detectors and surveyed the dig site looking for the capsules. Unable to distinguish water pipes from pennies, they decided to bring in much higher-powered equipment used to detect landmines, courtesy of the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
The students, shovels in hand, watched as potential capsule sites were marked, and small holes were dug one-foot deep. But after a little more than an hour and many holes dug, the team decided to call it quits.
Cook and Russo both noted that they didn’t know if the capsules were contained in metal, which may be the reason they were unable to find them. For now the time capsules will remain buried, and the rest is history.
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