This story was originally published in Newsday on January 9, 2000
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS may seem like less than a millisecond measured against world history. But for about 500 Lawrence Middle School students, that time span could have meant a vast difference in life as they know it.
Therefore, imagine their impatience-and then their surprise-when they opened a time capsule from the Class of 1976 and discovered how similar life in and out of class was for many of that generation.
The time capsule, opened before the students left for their holiday recess on Dec. 22, was the idea of the National Honor Society and the student government of the then Lawrence Junior High School, as their way to celebrate the nation's bicentennial.
The material, about 35 items, included theater programs from "A Chorus Line" and "Bye Bye Birdie," photographs of the area, a bicentennial coin, a $ 2 bill, a mood ring, copies of Newsweek and Time magazines, a 13-star flag from Bennington, Vt., a photograph of Henry Winkler as The Fonz, a copy of the school's literary magazine, the school curriculum, a detention pass and a pass to the nurse.
"It was a walk down memory lane," said Allen Kroningold after the time capsule was opened. "As a teacher here for 31 years and adviser to the National Honor Society when items were suggested for the time capsule, I can see the product of our labors." The capsule, a steel box 18 inches wide by 12 inches high, was sealed in a wall of then principal Alvin Baron's office, to be opened by the Class of 2000. The office has been taken over by the district school superintendent, so the decision was made to let the entire student body watch the breaking of the wall and the capsule's opening by way of a live video feed from the superintendent's office to the middle school auditorium. Former administrators and about a dozen alumni of the junior high also attended.
"Talk of the time capsule's opening created much interest among the children," principal Mark Kavarsky said. "They speculated as to its contents and talked about what life must have been like as a child in the 1970s."
Harrison Greenbaum, an eighth grader and honor society officer was sitting on the auditorium's stage and noticed the expressions of some of the returning alumni. "They hadn't seen it for 25 years and they, and we, were reliving history," he said.
He especially was interested in the old photographs of Lawrence and Cedarhurst.
"There were lots of changes," he said, and wondered how the area would look to students of the Class of 2025 if they opened a time capsule from the Class of 2000.
Fellow student Charles Mann has already signed up to work on the next time capsule, for which the school is making preliminary plans. He has prepared a list of eighth graders and teachers, so they could be remembered. And he hopes he will be able to come back to open it.
"The opening of the time capsule was an historic moment for our school and the community," he said. "I found Cedarhurst to look completely different.
There was a movie theater in the middle of the village and now there's a mall." But while some things change, others remain the same for the students. These include their literary magazine, their love of music and plays, and their participation in the student government and desire to be accepted by the National Honor Society.