Student treasures went into the Newman School time capsule, one by one.
Photographs. Drawings. A pencil, worn to a nub by a year's worth of homework. A copy of the Guinness Book of World Records, so future generations would know what an astonishing time it was to be alive, here in the year 2023.
Somewhere in the Newman School complex is another time capsule, sealed 67 years ago by another generation at this small Jewish day school affiliated with Talmud Torah of St. Paul.
There are just 13 students, in kindergarten through fifth grade, at the school this year. On Friday, they gathered around the vintage hatbox that would become their time capsule and agreed this one should be hidden away for 67 years as well. Newman School Director Jessie Lavintman promised to schedule an email reminder for 2090.
"I can imagine them looking through the Guinness Book of World Records and saying, 'Wow, This has changed a lot,'" said 10-year-old Adaya Marsh.
But before they sent their stories into the future, the students spent an entire year gathering stories from their past. The names are written across almost every vertical surface in their school – names of teachers, names of loved ones printed on rooms dedicated in their honor, names of donor after donor who supported the small school in big ways over the years.
The students fanned out across the Talmud Torah campus, scribbling down names in special "super sleuth" notebooks created for them by Nina Samuels and Earl Schwartz — volunteers and grandparents at the school who guided them through the project. Together, they worked to learn the stories behind each shem tov — good name.
"This is a school full of plaques and names," Samuels said. "There are plaques everywhere dedicated to people who have been very generous in multiple ways in the past. And this generation of students and parents and faculty have never known any of the people on the plaques and don't know who they are."
The couple wanted students to understand that they were not just part of the present-day school. They were its future.
"We wanted the students to have an understanding that they were not just the receivers of the school's history," she said. Someday, Samuels and Schwartz told the children, "there would be people looking back who were curious about who they were."
Every student joined the investigation. The kindergartners were particularly good at locating names, spotting a few in an outdoor memorial garden that the others had overlooked. Louis Newman, whose family helped found their school in 1956, visited the school and was peppered with questions.
"This is an ongoing project," said Whitman Noecker, 10, who still is waiting to hear back from some people he and his brother, Fitz, 8, contacted. There are still so many stories he and his classmates want to hear.
On Friday, the students and their families gathered for Shabbat blessings, the last of the school year. They had a great deal to be thankful for, and a great deal to think about. Like where exactly to hide a time capsule, and how they and the world might change in the next 67 years.
"Our community will never look like this again," teacher Briana Cohen-Lavintman told the students after prayers. The world will change. We will change with it.
"But the relationships and friendships" from the Newman School, where they filled a hatbox with pencils and drawings and stories of all the good names that came before their's. "That will last. That will last."