Fifth grade student Haylee Thomas recently read a letter from her Aunt Dawn. The letter was special, not just because people don’t send personal letters often these days, but because the letter Haylee held in her hands was written in 1992 and buried in a time capsule.

Haylee and her classmates in Lindsey Richey’s fifth grade class took on the project of opening time capsules found by construction workers at the site of the new Fellows Elementary School building. Buried 23 years ago in honor of the school’s new playground, the capsules contain samples of District  and school materials and curriculum, letters, pictures and cultural artifacts.

Richey said the students, whose room has “the best view of the new school building’s construction,”  are now the curators of the historical archives related to the old building.

“They’re determining what’s important versus what is not, and what the connection is to our time and our community,” Richey said.  “We have, among other things, records from 149 people about what they hoped for the future.”

Richey said she organized students into committees to organize pictures, papers, letters and other artifacts and prepare them for display at the Fellows Fair next month.

Veteran sixth grade teacher Bob Kelly, now retired, was one of the “instigators” of the time capsules, according to Richey. Kelly left a note with the documentation about the time capsule project: “We hope you are enjoying world peace, a stable and unpolluted environment, a technologically advanced life style and a love of learning.” Kelly visited the classroom recently to visit the artifacts.

Haylee’s aunt, Dawn (Kepley) Ozman was in fifth grade. She wrote: “I was tall and nice. I had a lot of friends. I like to listen to Queen, Gun (sic)/N’ Roses and Right Said Fred. I like school a lot and hope to have  a family someday.”

Haylee, age 11, said her aunt’s dreams came true.

She has three children and works in the emergency room at Mercy hospital in Des Moines,” Haylee said. “I talked to her the day we opened the time capsules, and it brought back lots of memories.”

Richey said there was a hint of disappointment alongside all the excitement.

“We had hoped to find the time capsules before construction started, but that didn’t happen,” she said. “When workers dug them up, not knowing in advance where they were, there was unfortunately a lot of damage.”

Gunner Crouch, 11, said he was surprised that only five capsules were found out of the 25 that were buried.

“Some of them were full of water, paper mush and barely surviving NBA cards,” he said. “They smelled really bad.”

Madison DeLashmutt said she was intrigued by how students 23 three years ago liked things similar to her generation—music, games and books—although the names have changed.

“We found a poster in one time capsule with books and toys we’ve never heard of, but we recognized some familiar riddles from a book,” she said.

Gunner has advice for future attempts at time capsules.

“Put in pictures, letters, and food, like potato chips.  And make sure you seal it properly!”