For 25 years a brown, a plastic trashcan sat in the depths of the Westhampton Beach Elementary School basement, untouched by anyone. A sign affixed to it read, "Do not open until January 1, 2013."
Last week, with the date's passing, Principal Lisa Slover enlisted several fifth-graders to explore the contents of the can. The students, equipped with headlamps, ventured down to the dark basement and what they discovered, Slover said, were some very "interesting" artifacts.
"We treated it like a scientific mission," said Slover, who had the students guess what was inside before they carried the can to the principal's office to be opened.
Inside, the students found between 25 and 30 artifacts that were left to them by sixth graders in 1988 — at the time the school was for students from kindergarten through sixth grade
There was a cassette tape recording of interviews with students and teachers of the time, posters of Debbie Gibson, Tiffany and Kirk Cameron, copies of Newsday and The Hampton Chronicle, now known as The Southampton Press Western Edition. And there was also a floppy disk and a school cafeteria menu.
"They had no idea what a cassette tape was," Slover said. "They were really amazed by what was inside."
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She said all of the items have been categorized and are on display in the school library, and all elementary school students are working on projects related to the time capsule.
Depending on their age, the students are being asked to write essays, comparing and contrasting the items from 25 years ago to what is around today.
"It is pretty neat," Slover said. "The kids really had some great questions."
For example, she said the old school menu had items like baked ziti and bologna.
"We can't serve that now because of new health standards," she said.
The names of the students, who created the time capsule have been found inside the can and Slover said the school has since learned that one current third-grade student is the nephew of one of those students. And the student who had the honor of opening the time capsule has since found out that his aunt, a teacher, was part of the creation of the time capsule. She now teaches in Eastport.
With the time capsule now open, students have asked if they can create their own time capsule including items from 2013 and also put back the 1988 items.
Students who open it in 25 years from now will then be able to explore 50 years of history, Slover said.
Patch wants to know: If you could put any item in a time capsule what would it be? Feel free to share your thoughts below.