Working Together for a Bright Future

Time Capsules Opened at Johnstone and Durand

Two district schools got a unique history lesson on Monday as Johnstone School and Durand Elementary School students unpacked time capsules from 1950’s.

The capsules, which were unearthed over the summer, had been forgotten until a former Johnstone student, Randy Wilhelm, recalled the time capsule dedication when he was in fourth grade. John Wilhelm, brother of Randy, researched the matter further and brought it to the attention of the district’s Director of Facilities, Wayne Weaver, and other members of the administration. After verifying that a capsule had been buried at Johnstone and its “twin” school, Max Leuchter, both were removed and held until students arrived for the new school year.

Students at Johnstone, now home to the Applied Math and Science Academy (AMSA), stripped away the protective layers inside the metal box and discovered a stack of well-preserved documents about the school and city. Among the items were class lists from 1957, classroom photos, a copy of the Vineland Times Journal from November 30, 1957, a booklet describing Vineland, and a copy of the city’s budget, among others.

The items were then repackaged and placed back in the capsule, along with artifacts from this year’s Johnstone class.  The AMSA students included several pieces commemorating the school’s new designation, including class lists, schedules, an iPhone, and photos of some of their accomplishments. Also added were pieces of popular culture – such as a description of the video game Fortnite, popular memes, and a printout of President Donald Trump’s latest tweet. All of the items were bundled together and, with dates added to the tops of the wrappings, both were snugly inserted back into the capsule. The students then accompanied the box back to the front of the school, where it returned to its original home to be exhumed again in 50 years.

At Durand Elementary School, the unveiling of the Max Leuchter time capsule was turned into a learning experience. Many of the students present for the unwrapping formerly attended Leuchter and moved to Durand after the redistricting this year. The Leuchter box contained many items similar to those found in the Johnstone capsule, including classroom photographs, coins from the year, class lists, and school documents. Also included was a copy of the Vineland Times Journal from May, 1949, shortly after Max Leuchter’s death. The students eagerly examined the documents before showing them off to their classmates joining them in the library.

With Leuchter School no longer being used by the district, Superintendent Dr. Mary Gruccio suggested the capsule be moved to Durand. The students there also contributed new items to the box, which will be added to the time capsule already in existence at Durand. That capsule will be opened in 2023. As part of the history lesson, the fifth-grade classes at the school created newsletters to be included with this year’s bundle. The newsletters described school, city, state, and international events and accompanied other mementos, such as popular culture notes, school news, and district publications.

Click the following links for a gallery of photos from each school:

Johnstone time capsule:

Durand/Leuchter time capsule:

Thank you to Deb Marko and the Daily Journal for providing a video documenting each of the capsules photos, with names:

VPS Broadcasting also covered the event, and two news pieces can be viewed detailing the openings:

Johnstone news piece:

Durand/Leuchter news piece: