Community Papers

Time doesn't stand still while Coquitlam school is rebuilt

A little bit of history was revealed — then hidden again — last Friday during pre-construction work for the new Centennial secondary school building.

Two time capsules — one dating from 1967, when Centennial opened, and another from 1997, its 30th anniversary — were dug out from under a concrete slab on the southwest lawn of the Coquitlam high school. The plan is to store and rebury them when the $47.7-million replacement under construction is completed.

Although the task seems simple enough, it took a couple of construction workers, one operating a large backhoe, another a shovel, to remove a large rock and dig out the two time capsules. The job attracted several teachers and students, who stood in the bitter cold to watch the action.

The extraction of Centennial history from the damp earth also presented a bit of a dilemma for principal Rob Zambrano, vice-principal Bryn Williams and longtime staffer Mike Johnson. They didn't know whether to open the boxes or keep them closed and lock up the mystery of what's inside for another 20 or 30 years.

Johnson, an English teacher who was around when the newer time capsule was buried in ’97, the year his daughter graduated from the school, wanted to keep a lid on the contents, which included letters the grads sent to themselves to be read in 2027.

Zambrano was torn while some of the other staff who turned up to watch were curious.

"We're in a debate right now as to whether we should open them," he said.

It turns out the decision was made for them in one case. The box dating back to the school's opening in ’67 had fallen apart and hundreds of lead slugs with students' names stamped on them spilled out.

"I guess they didn't have plastic in 1967," Zambrano joked as he surveyed the remains of the capsule and its contents.

The time capsule dating back to ’97, meanwhile, was a plastic tool box tightly wrapped with duct tape and there was no reason to pry it apart.

Ian Patterson, one of the construction workers — and a 2003 Centennial graduate — was just happy that he was able to save the memorabilia and student Laura Bicho, who was recording the event for the school newspaper, said she was excited, too.

"I thought it was good to see the different generations and what they wanted to preserve," Bicho said.

So for now, it appears the 1997 time capsule will remain intact while a new container is found to store the mementoes from 30 years earlier. Zambrano said a new hole will be dug for these time capsules, and a third box with memorabilia from the grad class of 2015/’16 will be added.

It will then be up to future generation of Centaurs to dig them up for a peek inside their school's collective past.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.