Lakota grads return to Adena Elementary to open personal time machines

Lakota West High School graduating seniors Amy Whitaker and Camdyn Stradford open time capsules they created when they were sixth-graders at Adena Elementary. The event is the creation of Adena teacher Lori Combs. More than 150 students returned to their old school this year to open the containers they left for their future selves. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Lakota West High School graduating seniors Amy Whitaker and Camdyn Stradford open time capsules they created when they were sixth-graders at Adena Elementary. The event is the creation of Adena teacher Lori Combs. More than 150 students returned to their old school this year to open the containers they left for their future selves. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

More than 150 Lakota graduating seniors were just visited by a time traveler — themselves.

The graduates returned to Adena Elementary, where as sixth-graders in 2011 they created personalized time capsules that stayed sealed until the now-teenagers popped them opened this week.

Explore STORY & VIDEO: Lakota grads parade in cap and gowns through elementary schools

The grade school memories burst out fast, bringing smiles and some tears.

The Lakota graduates pulled out letters written in the past to their future selves. There were also notes from parents and other family members — some who have since died.

Some pulled out forgotten photos, trinkets, art work and keepsakes.

But most of all there were cherished remembrances from their pre-teen youth.

“I love this. This is my favorite part of graduation … coming here and doing this,” said Lakota West High School senior Amy Whitaker, as she pulled her memorabilia from one of the decorated Pringles potato chip cylinders serving as a make-shift time capsule.

Explore STORY & VIDEO: Lakota East’s internationally famous quads headed to Yale

“I learned to look at the way I looked at things then and I smile. And I get to see everyone I used to sit in this (school) lunchroom when we were 10 times tinier,” said Whitaker.

The “time-machines” are courtesy of veteran Adena teacher Lori Combs, who invented the annual time capsule tradition years ago.

It’s fun, instructional and most importantly deeply moving for graduating seniors on the cusp of their first step away from school into young adulthood.

They can look back with greater appreciation and perhaps more insight on where they are in their arc of life and where they are headed, said Combs, who teaches sixth grade.

Explore MORE: New Lakota superintendent will lead district next school year

“We go back in time and we think about how excited we were …and on an emotional level they get to re-live who they were,” said Combs.

“So much gets lost, especially today. This (time capsule) brings them back to the fads, the toys of yesteryear and they are reminded of themselves as youngsters,” she said.

“And this is an opportunity for them to reflect on how they have grown since elementary and what’s ahead for them. A lot of students move away to different school (systems) but they came back today,” she said.

“There is a lot of emotion in this,” she said. “A lot of high highs and some sad moments too.”

Fellow Lakota West graduate Camdyn Stradford stared surprised at what sixth-grader Stradford included in her capsule.

“This is my dance team from sixth grade,” she said unrolling a photo. “And these are my dance medals.”

“I think this is awesome,” she said. “I was really excited to come back here to do this.”

Explore EDUCATION NEWS: Michael D. Clark’s Facebook page includes the latest in local, national education trends

About the Author