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Burnaby students rediscover a blast from the past

Former Seaforth Elementary kids gather to read letters they wrote to themselves when they were in Grade 3, 11 years ago

What a difference a decade makes.

That was the lesson at Seaforth Elementary this week when a group of former students returned to open a time capsule they sealed when they were in Grade 3 – 11 years earlier.

Now 19 and 20 years old, 11 former students (12 if you count one who attended via Facetime) gathered in the Seaforth library Monday to read letters they wrote to themselves more than a decade ago.

Most had completely forgotten what they wrote.

A couple laughed when they discovered how far behind they were on parenting timelines they’d laid down in Grade 3.

“You’re going to be a great mom when you’re 20,” wrote Vanessa Chan.

That seems a bit hasty to the SFU visual arts student now.

“I think back then I thought 20 was going to be like, you’re a grown-up, you have your family and all that stuff,” she said.

Clarissa Montgomery’s predictions for the future were also off the mark, but not quite so far.

She had planned to be a teacher but has since decided to become a speech therapist.

“It’s super cute,” said the SFU student of her Grade 3 letter, which was filled with “yes, no, maybe so” checkboxes to questions like “Are you enjoying reading this as much as I’m enjoying writing it?”

Aside from no longer planning to be a mom in her 20s, the interests classmate Mei Doerksen put down in her letter are still pretty current. 

She’s still really focused on school as an international studies student at SFU.

But her “future board” (a collage of cut-out images created by each student to capture their Grade 3 interests and future aspirations) did include a shout-out to Avril Lavigne.

Aidan Maddalozzo’s activity level, meanwhile, has changed dramatically since Grade 3.

His letter was all about not having much to do outside of school back then.

Those days are long gone for the BCIT-trained electrician.

“I have a job, so I have to work. I actually have to do something,” he said with a laugh.

One of Antony Shiu’s future aspirations, according to his Grade 3 letter, was to spend time in the woods taking photos of different “harmless” animals.

“It’s nice to reflect back to see what you were like in Grade 3,” he said.

A couple of other former students were just too embarrassed to share the contents of their letters, sealed 11 years ago.

The project was the brainchild of former Seaforth teacher Lynda Glavas, now teaching at Parkcrest Elementary, and parent Lydia Burchell-Strand, a life coach whose son Parker was in the class.

It was the only time capsule Glavas has ever made with students.

“I thought it would somehow decrease the excitement and value of it if I did it more than once,” she said. “I wanted it to be really special.”

She stored the sealed box of letters and future boards in closets at home for 11 years. Every now and then she would run into students asking her when it would be time to open it.

The plan, according to a note attached on the box, was for the class to find Glavas in June 2018.

“Mrs. Glavas will announce the meeting in the newspaper, the internet or whatever form of communication is available in 2018,” states the plan. (Glavas and the kids didn’t discover Facebook until later.)

It was Pirate Spirit Day at the school the day the capsule was sealed, according to a letter by Glavas included in the box.

The Canucks had made the playoffs that year, according to the letter; wind storms had blown down trees in Stanley Park and part of the roof off B.C. Place; the new Port Mann Bridge had yet to be built and tomato seeds from Seaforth had spent 18 days on the International Space Station.

An April 11, 2007 edition of the NOW sealed in the capsule coincidentally featured a series of photos of a Seaforth student (not in Glavas’s class) competing in an egg-toss contest.

Looking back, Glavas said her 2006/07 class were an energetic bunch and the timing for the project had been just right.

Before letting them go their separate ways again Monday, she got her former students to write another letter and promised to invite them to her retirement party 10 or 11 years from now to open them.