Twenty years ago, students of English teacher Marlene Moran sealed away a time capsule at Dodd Middle School with plans to open it in two decades.
Dozens returned to the school on Friday to reclaim the memorabilia of their 13-year-old selves.
"It's exciting to see the stuff we did that spans time," said Joshua Scherer, Dodd class of 1992. A photo of Scherer and classmate Heather Mitchell Koch showing them lifting the time capsule into place has hung above the vault for 20 years.
Moran joked with her former students about the passage of time. "You've all gotten so old, and I haven't." The favored teacher then announced she had just celebrated her 80th birthday.
Among the contents of the time capsule was a video tape explaining newfangled gadgets such as VCRs and laser discs. Other objects placed by students in the small lock box included a Wayne's World movie poster, instructions on using an answering machine and a Sports Illustrated magazine with an article about Lyle Alzado, one of the first athletes to use steroids.
The most poignant contents, however, were the letters the students wrote to themselves 20 years ago. Jason Wilson, who now lives in Philadelphia, said his letter claimed he was the teacher's favorite. "I was always on errands. I was out of class more than in it," Wilson's letter read.
Scherer's letter contained sketches of Star Trek symbols. His said the two-decade old message gave him an insight about how his life has changed. "I no longer draw. I used to draw a lot. My spelling is better. I don't know how they let me out of eighth grade!"
Heather Mitchell Koch, who helped organize the event, said the artifacts in the time capsule are important, but aren't the only reminders of growing up. "It's the timeless connection we make with each other," she said.
Walt Smith, a janitor at Dodd, had the privilege of removing the time capsule from its bricked-in vault in the corner of the school lobby. He used a sledgehammer and a chisel to break away the mortar.
Knowing he would be the center of attention during the event, Smith said he planned what tools he would use and how he would open up the hollow space. "I thought about it for a week. I'm glad I got to open it, it was fun," he said.