By Gwen Rollings
Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins became a time traveler on February 27 as he took a trip back to 1991.
As a 25-year-old fourth grade teacher at a new school, Cypress Creek Elementary School in Ruskin, he was full of inspiration and imagination. Eakins recalled his good fortune in having Joseph Green as his principal.
Eakins remarked to Green, “Joe, we were having a conversation thinking about the kids and our new special school when the idea just naturally emerged about making a time capsule. I might have come up with the idea, but you would make things happen.”
Eakins and Green were not alone. Many other time travelers made the trip back through the years: Bonnie Weigle was a second-grade teacher in 1991. Lisa Amos, a teacher then, is now the principal of Kingswood Elementary School in Brandon. J. Thomas Roth taught with Eakins and is the principal at Reddick Elementary in Wimauma. Ellen Kleinschmidt was the music teacher. Carol Tedder was assistant principal. Nancy Waddell was a teacher and still works there. Former students and a student’s mother came.
Perhaps most of all the time travelers, James Berrien, custodian at Cypress Springs from the first day, proved why he is still “the best custodian in Hillsborough County.”
At 11 a.m., the grand opening began as the cover to the cement container, which silently lay under a stairwell at the school for 29 years, was pried open easily. The time capsule was removed from its resting place with sounds of laughter and applause.
However, opening the time capsule was another story. When all efforts at pulling and twisting failed; Berrien carried the long cylinder away. He earned his title (best custodian) and returned soon with an open capsule.
Eakins and Green were able to reveal the contents: a whistle, a video that still worked, a school T-shirt, class pictures of smiling children, letters from kids about what they wanted to be in 25 years (a model, policeman, Marine, teacher, ballet dancer, a principal, driving a limousine), a tattered flag donated by a veteran which flew over the construction of Cypress Creek, a Tampa newspaper with headlines about storm chances being high, Bush vs. Clinton and the economy.
Eakins summarized the contents of the 1991 time capsule, “Well, some things are different today, but I’m proud to see some things never change, like the same kind of love and care about their students.”