Time capsule takes former elementary students and teachers back 22 years

One object pulled from the time capsule, a VHS tape, captured a former Washington Elementary School teacher’s rapport with students in 1999 — and the collapse of his Christmas tree made of Mountain Dew cans.

Other objects included popular merchandise of the time: a bag of Pokemon collector’s cards, a stuffed orange Garfield doll. 

These mementos and more sprang from a metal canister Tuesday during a time-capsule opening at the Boise school. A range of items, from poems and pictures to video footage and CDs took some 100 spectators down a time warp of 22 years.

Dennis Falk, a former Washington Elementary sixth-grade teacher, watches school officials open a time capsule sealed over two decades earlier. Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho EdNews

The event also connected past students and educators. Former classmates and teachers embraced each other — including Dennis Falk, who captured the time capsule’s classroom footage over 20 years ago.

Former students still affectionately called him Mr. Falk at Tuesday’s event. The former teacher relished the walk down memory lane.

“Also, I retired in 2000,” he shouted after Washington Elementary Principal Hannah Courtright relayed to the audience some big events from the year the capsule was sealed.

Falk had made a reputation as the fun teacher who cared, he said. He’d roll basketballs down the hall and into another teacher’s room during downtime. He’d give students daily allocations of “Falk bucks” that they could use to go to the restroom or select their seats in class.

His past video footage from the classroom captured some of it. Students memorialized his well-known love for Mountain Dew by building a Christmas tree made of green soda cans. Each year, it grew. Until it didn’t.

Falk chronicled its downfall on video in 1999, his last year teaching, and encased the footage in the capsule. School officials put the footage into digital format and showed the first few minutes to the crowd Tuesday.

Longtime friends and classmates Chris Canfield, center, and Ryan Belodoff, right, enter Washington Elementary’s time capsule opening on Tuesday. Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho EdNews

When Courtright pulled a bag of Pokemon cards from the capsule, it confirmed what then-third-graders Ryen Belodoff and Chris Canfield suspected but couldn’t remember: that their class had added some cultural icons to the canister.

Canfield cheered out loud when the cards were revealed.

Both Belodoff and Canfield have lived in Boise their entire lives. In first grade, they sat at the same reading table. They’ve been best friends ever since, living together in college and up until a few weeks ago.

The event ushered in some nostalgia for the men. Now a theater teacher, Canfield was glad to know that there are so many people who still care deeply about the school and the time period he grew up in.

The capsule captured other memories. In 2000, Pokemon cards were all the craze, Canfield recalled. He recalled the school issuing a ban on them after the cards caused fights.

Seeing the capsule’s contents served as a reminder “to grow up, but not grow old,” he said.

“Have a sense of play. Have a sense of fascination. Have a sense of wonder. Have a sense of child-like interest,” Canfield added.

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the implementation of policy in Idaho’s K-12 public school system. He’s a military brat and former health care reporter who holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from University of Idaho. Follow Kyle on Twitter @pfannyyy. He can be reached at [email protected].

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