Stauffer Middle School Faculty was shocked when an over 40-year-old, long-forgotten time capsule was found buried on campus.
The school is currently undergoing major construction, including the building of a new Library Media Center at the front of the campus. Prior to the start of construction, the area was a wide, grassy area.
According to Principal Alyda Mir, that is where construction workers uncovered quite the surprise.
“They excavated it and lo and behold they found this cylinder tube,” said Alyda. “The Construction guys actually opened it first just to make sure it was all good, and then they brought it to me…”
Contents include several staff and student rosters, photos, A letterman’s letter, school documents such as report cards and the school newspaper, and paraphernalia associated with school spirit.
It is estimated that the capsule was inserted into the ground around March 1974, which would coincide with when West Junior High School made the transition to West Middle School. West Middle School was then renamed to Mary R Stauffer Middle School in 2014.
Not surprisingly, no faculty from 1974 remains at the school.
“None of these teachers are still here,” said Mir. “Not one.”
However, one former student of the time, Lois Worthy, now serves as a resident substitute on campus.
“I’ve not left this place in the last 43 years,” joked Worthy.
Worthy remembers the capsule being put together and placed on campus, which had to do with the aforementioned transition period that the school was about to undertake.
“The 9th grade class did it because it was the last class here as a junior high,” said Worthy. “The following year it turned into a middle school. That last year was the last 9th grade class ever at West Junior High…”
Worthy was around 12-years old and in 7th grade.
According to Worthy, many of the names listed on the documents in the capsule are still in and around Downey.
“Downey keeps its people,” said Worthy.
Supposedly, there is another time capsule somewhere on campus from around 15 years ago, however much like the one recently unearthed its location has long since been forgotten.
“They’ve been excavating the back of the campus as well,” said Mir. “Maybe it will pop up.”
For now, Mir says she hopes to put some of the contents in a shadow box to be displayed in the future administration building.
Mir also plans to rebury the capsule with some of its original artifacts as well as some new current mementos; this time with its location marked and recorded.