The year is 1992. Texas millionaire Ross Perot announces he will run for president. George Bush, the first one, is president. Windows 3.0 upgrades to 3.1. The newly constructed Bryant Wing is dedicated on the campus of Abilene High School.
Meanwhile, a group of AHS social studies teachers and students decide to make a little history of their own. After weeks of discussions, debates and poring over survey results, each social studies class votes on items that will go into a time capsule implanted into the wall of their new wing of classrooms.
Votes are tallied. The contents are put into a special box, and a plaque is mounted on the wall that reads: “Leona and Milton Bryant Addition – 1992. Time Capsule to be opened Fall 2017. A Project of the Student Council and Social Studies Department.”
Well, here we are.
Twenty-five years later, on Saturday, Oct. 21, the capsule will be extracted and its contents revealed during a ceremony in the AHS East Cafeteria at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Among the former Eagles expected to return to campus on Saturday are Royce Curtis, principal in 1992, and Dennis Townsend, a member of the social studies department who spearheaded the project. They will be on hand to share thoughts and memories. Other current and past AHS staff are planning to attend, including Judge Mike McAuliffe, “Officer Mike,” Student Resource Officer at the time.
After the unveiling, the contents will be placed on display tables in the cafeteria so guests to the ceremony may get a close-up view.
Also expected in attendance are two special guests who were present when the Bryant Wing was dedicated on Sept. 20, 1992. Brenda May, of the famous May Farm, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bryant, who were longtime educators in AISD. (Mrs. Bryant taught math at AHS for many, many years). In addition, the Bryants’ granddaughter, Jamy (May) Wagner, is traveling all the way from her home in Alaska to take part.
Current AHS social studies teacher Jennifer Jordan certainly will be there. In 1992, she was Jennifer Scott, an Eagle freshman and member of Mrs. Dee Utasi’s U.S. History class.
“I remember the excitement in our class when we were trying to decide what we wanted to put in the time capsule,” she said.
She’s even more excited about the unveiling on Saturday. Her classmates voted to go with a cassette tape, although Mrs. Jordan can’t remember if the tape is one of a popular recording artist at the time or a recording of students speaking into a microphone.
Which brings up an important point, says Mr. Townsend, now retired and living in Fort Worth with his wife, Andie, also a former AHS teacher.
“Some of the best discussions were about what we wouldn’t put in the time capsule,” he said.
He recalls deep deliberations about whether a VHS tape would be an appropriate item to include, but some were against the idea for fear a machine would not still exist to play the tape.
Amazingly, three members of the social studies department who helped with the project still teach in the Bryant Wing – Brad Gallaway, Beth Hamaty and Jenny Miller.
“It was such an exciting time; we were so close and connected as a department,” Miller said. “We wanted to design a project that integrated all levels of our students, from freshmen to seniors. It was the neatest thing when we finally had all the items chosen to try to cram all of them into that box.”
So, Mr. Townsend, what’s in it? You can tell us.
He gave us a few clues, but they just intensified the anticipation even more. A list of slang terms of the time. A map of Abilene with favorite hot spots marked. Photos of hairstyles and fashion.
“My Sociology classes made a list of concerns in 1992 they hoped would be solved by 2017,” he said. “And there are also items that we want to keep secret.”
Why 25 years?
“We wanted it to be opened in the lifetime of the students that chose the items,” Townsend said. “We wanted it to be a learning experience to see how the world has changed.”
Enter Mrs. Jordan, formerly Jennifer Scott, AHS Eagle freshman of 1992. Her classes, along with all other social studies classes at AHS, will take a short field trip to the foyer of the AHS Auditorium next week to inspect the contents of the 1992 time capsule.
“Want to know the neatest part?” she asked. “We are going to do it again with this year’s classes.”
Get ready, Class of 2042.