Senior class rediscovers Mason Heights memories through elementary time capsules

Abby Waechter | Staff Writer

A picture found in one of the time capsules showing a class of ’21 students on the Mason Heights playground

Mason Heights closed its doors for the last time ten years ago, and all that remains of it are three time capsules.  

Mason Heights in 2011 was quite different compared to the current organization which is housed in both the Intermediate and Elementary schools now. Eric Messer was the principal, the school was in session until the beginning of June and the building was reserved for second and third-grade classes only. 

In May 2011, however, Academic and Creative Talents (ACT) teacher Jill Hartsock’s three classes put together time capsules that encapsulated their experience as the last classes that would be taught in the Mason Heights before the building’s closing. The three time capsules collected dust for ten years on top of a storage locker in Hartsock’s Mason Intermediate classroom until her class of 2021 students were preparing for graduation. 

Hartsock said that the inspiration to create the time capsules came from her student’s passion for other projects that had been opened up throughout their communities. 

“In the fall of 2011, the City of Mason opened up the 100-year time capsule,” Hartsock said. “My students were invested in it, and I think that’s what inspired [Hartsock and her assistant Elizabeth Messerschmitt] to be like ‘okay let’s make one then.’” 

Hartsock took charge of its organization by asking her students to bring in objects that showcased the year 2011. Yellowed newspapers from The Cincinnati Enquirer, TIME Magazines featuring prominent artists such as Rhianna and Katy Perry, as well as fads such as Silly Bands and Legos filled the time capsules to their brims. 

Hartsock also asked the parents of her students to write a letter identifying their child’s character traits for them to compare in ten years when they would get them back. Many parents included pictures and phrases that embodied their child’s traits and sealed them in envelopes that were forgotten until the time capsules were unearthed again. 

Senior Abby Miller’s mom left her a letter describing her daughter as: compassionate, creative, sensitive, enthusiastic, and loyal. Miller said that it was interesting to first see how her mom characterized her as a third-grader and compare it to how she has evolved or stayed the same ten years later. 

“I’ve obviously matured, but I think my core personality hasn’t changed much,” Miller said. “The traits that were listed in my time capsule letter still apply to me now, and it’s cool to have something like this that gives me a glimpse back in time.”

Senior Amogh Iyanna’s parents left him an acrostic poem out of the letters in his name, describing him as affectionate, merry, obedient, generous, and helpful. After looking at his poem in 2021, Iyanna said that his personality, for the most part, has not changed. 

“I’ve definitely exercised these qualities throughout the last ten years,” Iyanna said. “I’m not too sure about the ‘obedient’ part now, but it’s funny that they thought I was obedient in third grade.” 

Iyanna also left himself an excerpt about what he was interested in in third grade: “I love sports and football is my favorite sport. I am a Steelers fan and Trey Polamalu is my favorite player.” Iyanna said that his third-grade self was “freakishly accurate to what [he] still enjoys.” 

Iyanna said that in his letter to his future self, that there was only one thing that differed thanks to his increased curiosity within the medical field. 

“In my letter, I said that I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up,” Iyanna said. “That’s changed now because I have decided that I want to be a doctor now.”

With opening an aged box of trinkets, memories of experiences and encounters have reminded seniors of the relationships and memories that were made during their Elementary school careers. Miller said that the memories that were unearthed in her mind after opening her time capsule were a way to remember both how far she has come in ten years and how much she has remained the same. 

“I remember the carnivals and field days and eating lunch with my friends in the cafeteria, and I am still close to fellow students and teachers,” Miller said. “Looking back at what I put in my time capsule just makes me so grateful for the memories I’ve made throughout my years here at Mason.”

As the Class of 2021 prepares to graduate, Hartsock says that she hopes that her students will “carry the lessons they learned in ACT with them for the rest of their lives” and that the time capsules served as a pathway to “remember who they have always been even though [the seniors] have undergone so much change and have begun to explore who they really are.”

Photo contributed by Jill Hartsock