Memories of a pandemic year buried in Byrd Elementary time capsules

Blakeley Bartee, Aiken Standard, S.C.
·2 min read

Apr. 16—GRANITEVILLE — A face mask, hand sanitizer and gloves are among the items buried in front of Byrd Elementary School's flagpole, where students watched a time capsule burial ceremony Friday morning.

Two capsules, now underground for the next 15 years, contain letters to the future from all the students at Byrd Elementary from 4K to fifth grade. The letters are the work of children who have spent more than a year in the COVID-19 pandemic — for the youngest students, that's about a fifth of their entire lives.

Two students read their letters for the future aloud at the time capsule burial.

Bryson Wilson, a fifth grade student, wrote to the future generations at Byrd Elementary.

"In my years, right now, this pandemic is hitting us hard. We've never suffered from something this deadly," Wilson wrote. "We, the past, look upon you future kids as the next generation. You hold our hopes and dreams for the future. Don't worry about the past. Just focus on you."

Fellow fifth grader Dale Pearson wrote his letter to his future self, detailing his spot on the Graniteville Grenades baseball team, his plans to either make it in professional baseball or start a business, the Netflix show he's been watching with his dad — and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Dear future Dale, right now in my life, there is a huge pandemic going on," Pearson wrote. "It's affecting my and everyone else's lives. It's called the coronavirus. We have to wear masks everywhere! It's also killed over 600,000 people."

The burial ceremony started at 9 a.m., featuring speeches from Principal Renae Enlow and PTO President Theresa Reeves.

Students squinted at the bright morning sun and huddled against the chilly breeze. Enlow said this was the first large gathering at the school all year, with other celebrations being held in small groups.

The kids cheered when Byrd Elementary's eagle mascot pulled off popular dance moves like "the floss."

As students filed back inside to start the regular school day, first grade student CJ Brabham said he will always remember the time capsule, and that it was his favorite part of the school year.

Addison Taylor, also in first grade, said what she will always remember about the 2020-2021 school year is wearing masks, as well as when all her classmates got to see each other again after being separated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the time capsules are unearthed — an event to take place no sooner than April 16, 2036 — the students will be invited to return and read their letters from the 2020-2021 school year.