In 2000, Faith Hill ruled the music charts, “Gladiator” topped the box office, gas cost a mere $1.54 a gallon and the talk of Toano Middle School was the reconstruction of its exterior wall.
Families packed into Toano’s gymnasium Thursday night to cast their memories back 10 years, when the school buried a time capsule to be opened in 2010. The Parent-Teacher Association sponsored a ceremony, including cheerleaders, choir performances, string performances and turn-of-the-aughts trivia. Former students, teachers and administrators were on hand to explain the contents of the capsule.
Former principal Michael Asip, who now works in Chesterfield, reminded the crowd of the mood that preceded 2000. “People said the world would end,” he said, referring to the y2k fear that computers would fail and the world would descend into chaos.
He joined the school, which opened in 1992, in 1997 and within two years, found out the exterior wall of the building was poorly constructed. Engineers said a wind gust of 25 miles per hour could push over the cinderblock walls, so the school division and community prepared for a disruptive year of reconstruction. Students were displaced, taking their classes wherever they could escape the noise. But Asip remembers the middle school students as resilient and creative.
It was decided the school should preserve a snapshot of that moment, and the PTA president’s husband created a weatherproofed, sealed time capsule. Students voted on what objects to place inside, and on Thursday, three former students were on hand to explain the contents.
Standing around a table, the women started sorting through papers that fell out. The capsule contained a “Go Tigers!” button; a videotape of the 1999 wall reconstruction; an article about a student who had rescued her family from a house fire; the front pages of the Daily Press and The Virginia Gazette on Jan. 1, 2000, both with headlines blaring Y2K was a bust; essays about the turn of the century from each grade level; and a letter from Asip.
Asip stood on the sidelines and listened as former student Christina Madison, 23, read his letter aloud. Dated Feb. 26, 2000, Asip’s letter said the reason for the capsule burial was to usher in the new millennium. He wrote that the construction had been a tremendous disruption (Madison confirmed this, prompting laughter from the audience), and he described how the school division was responding to new challenges presented by the Standards of Learning. “We hope the 10 intervening years have given us much success,” Asip wrote.
Madison, now a performer, said the construction was the most memorable thing about her seventh-grade year. She and friend Christy Willard dissolved into giggles remembering how Madison fell down right after saying the mud created by the construction outside was dangerous. They remembered an air duct fire, and traveling from trailer to trailer for class, but Madison said their most cherished moments couldn’t be put in a time capsule.
“Of course, our best memories are of friends, activities, dances and band trips,” she said.