An Old Paulean time capsule – buried but not forgotten

Imagine a school teacher had asked you to create and bury a time capsule, a memorabilia of present-day things to be discovered in the future. You choose your favourite items, put the capsule in the ground, finish school, move to another country and the time capsule becomes history. But then several years later someone finds your capsule…

This is the story of Timothy Barker, an Old Paulean. In 1985, aged 10, he buried his capsule with:

– a rather lovely drawing of a boy gazing ahead

– a beautiful poem about fireworks, and

– an identikit: a picture of himself, shards of hair, his thumb prints, the flag of a club he and his friend had set up and other details about himself.

Carmen Sapsezian, who manages the Old Paulean group, contacted Tim about this discovery just a month ago through his sister Melody, who also attended St. Paul’s along with their siblings Eleanor and Samuel. Tim was thrilled to hear the news, amazed that the capsule had survived for this long. The class had buried the capsules in the corner of the biology plot. “They were placed in layers with those expected to leave sooner at the top and those staying till the end of school in the bottom layer, mine was at the bottom.

“I remember the excitement of placing the capsules in the ground. I had not forgotten about the time capsule but did not think the school would take kindly to finding it.”

When Tim left St. Paul’s in 1992, the biology plot no longer existed and had been paved over, marking the end for the capsules. It was until 34 years later, when the Pre-Prep area was being refurbished. Over the past year, engineers and other workers had been working tirelessly to transform the Pre-Prep area, building new, modern and secure facilities that allow our children to feel safe, explore and ready to learn.

As the workers were redesigning the Pre-Prep area, one of the engineers stumbled across Tim’s time capsule and took it to our bursar, Nelson Sapsezian.

Jill Brading, who was Tim’s teacher at the time, said the project was in response to some novels by Betsy Byars (a well-known American children’s author) the children had been studying and she included the activity as a personal history idea. The capsules were a rarity as it was only Tim’s class (then Junior Five) that had undertaken this project.

Mrs Brading, now retired, worked at St. Paul’s in the Prep School for three years from 1985 – 1988, along with her husband Neil, who taught history. She fondly recalls a terrifying thunderstorm that made everything so dark that no one could see across the classroom, as well as organising a maths and science exhibition for parents and swimming galas and sports days held on Saturday mornings.   

What a find! Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the project and see what one might discover at St. Paul’s in another 30 years’ time? What would you put in yours? #timecapsulestpaulssp

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