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Discovery of 1959 time capsule makes local history tangible

Sparta — Ever wonder what high school students were thinking about 60 years ago? Soon, today’s students and the rest of us will find some clues, thanks to a time capsule discovered at the school originally built as Sparta High School.

The contracting crew on a current district job site, which is transforming the former middle school into the Sparta Early Childhood Center, found a time capsule from when the building was originally dedicated as a high school in fall of 1959.

“Our general contractor was aware that one could exist, so he worked with the masonry crew to make sure they looked for it when working around the date stone,” said Superintendent Pete Bush. “It is typical when renovating old buildings, but sometimes you never know where it might have been stored.”  

Dave Andrus, who is a 1960 Sparta High graduate, was there at the dedication and appears in a yearbook photograph overlooking the newly installed interior garden of the new facility. 

But he doesn’t remember the class putting together a time capsule. “High School wasn’’t one of my favorite things to do,” he said.

The time capsule sparked some interest for Andrus though, and he connected with classmate Hugh Leach, who had at least one guess as to what might be in the capsule.

 “I really don’t remember a time capsule,” said Leach, “but I think there would at least be an article from the Sentinel Leader about the bond issue that made it possible.”

Leach, who lives in Mason, remembers the school change vividly, since he lived three doors down from the first Sparta High, but much farther from the “new” 1959 building. “Now it was a mile and a half to school and we couldn’t always get a ride and had to walk home. And we couldn’t go home for lunch, so we had to eat at school,” he recalled.

Former and current students alike will find out for sure what’s in the capsule when in-person classes return in the district. “January – we hope,” said Bush, who has enlisted the middle school student government to help. The students are planning for the capsule opening and preparing one of their own for the newest district facility — the just-opened middle school.

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst was a reporter for SNN covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts.


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