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Blast From the Past at Sunnyside

History: Elementary students will get to view the contents of a time capsule today that they helped unearth to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary.


After the final bell Friday, hundreds of Sunnyside Elementary School students in Garden Grove bottlenecked at the excavation site hoping to catch a glimpse of "it" before going home for the weekend. About every other student passing by had a question to ask Principal Tom Williams: "Can you see it? How deep was it? How big is it? What's in it?"

For almost 10 minutes Williams simply repeated as he ushered kids to the waiting buses, "You'll see it on Monday."

"It" is a time capsule, and from 8:30 that morning about 15 lucky students had been taking turns--in 20-minute intervals--digging with shovels, trying to get the capsule out of the ground.

Buried about five feet deep, the capsule was wedged underneath a concrete slab near the northwest corner of the school's multipurpose room. Eventually Garden Grove Unified School District maintenance workers had to use a backhoe after they couldn't unearth it with shovels.

"It's so big," shouted sixth-grader David Yoo. Yoo, 12, and his classmate Aaron Kim, 11, were the last two students to try to dig the capsule out by hand.

The capsule is a stainless-steel swimming pool filter measuring about 2 feet in diameter and 2 feet tall. "We were expecting something the size of a five-gallon paint can," Williams said.

With its seal broken because the securing bolt was not made of stainless steel, Yoo and Daniel Cho--another digger from earlier in the day--had the honor of opening the capsule so that Williams could make sure its contents weren't damaged.

Underneath a sheath of clear plastic a Barbie doll and an orange toy car were visible and appeared to be undamaged. Williams then closed the lid and put the capsule away until today, when its contents will be made available for viewing by all students.

The capsule has been unearthed as part of the school's 50th anniversary celebration. Students and teachers have compiled a list of new artifacts to be included when another capsule is buried Friday after a display celebration for parents and the community.

Students buried the time capsule at the school in 1976 to celebrate America's bicentennial and to leave a record of what life was like for future generations.

The capsule was reburied in 1990 to celebrate the school's 40th anniversary. The first capsule, a garbage can, had been crushed by the weight of the earth, and many of its contents sustained water damage.

Williams said they will again use a swimming pool filter for the capsule, but this time a smaller one.

"When they open it next will be up to whoever is in the administration at the time," Williams said.

Information: (714) 663-6158.

Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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