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Staff opens time capsule buried on Skyline Elementary grounds

By Staff | Jun 10, 2009

Teachers and staff from Skyline Elementary gathered in the school’s cafeteria Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the school’s time capsule buried in March 1995.
Last year, the school celebrated its 20th anniversary in Cape Coral. Staff wanted to open the time capsule during the two-decade anniversary, but at the time it was buried under a concrete slab.
This week, the school rented a backhoe to dig the capsule out of the ground.
On Tuesday, Skyline had early dismissal and teachers watched a slide show of old photographs from the school’s past after the students went home.
“We have a lot of great memories,” said Principal Chuck Vilardi. “I had no idea what a gold mine this school is.”
The capsule held dozens of plastic bags with items left by teachers and students from 1995. It preserved old T-shirts, student multiplication tables, pictures of former students and classes, fourth-grade math hats and children’s books signed by students who are now well into adulthood.
One student even wrote a letter addressed to the current staff at Skyline and headed it “Dear People of the Future.”
Each of the items will be displayed on a table in the school’s cafeteria for teachers, parents and staff who want to see pieces of the school’s history.
Steve Foust, the former principal of Skyline Elementary who now lives in Georgia, visited the school for the opening of the capsule. Foust’s memories of Skyline center around “Star Land,” the school’s wooden playground built during his tenure.
“Thinking of Star Land and the capsule, it was probably the greatest community happening in the history of Cape Coral,” he said.
Five-hundred people from the community joined together to build Star Land in less than one week, said Foust, but it had to be torn down because of wood rot and a new playground was built in its place.
“It was a wonderful place for kids to play, but a terrible place to maintain,” he said.
The Lee County School District is one of many nationwide having financial problems, and Vilardi said that Skyline Elementary has felt the effects of recent budget issues.
“This is one of the toughest years in my six years as a principal, handling all of the budget woes,” he said. “We are still waiting to hear whether we will have music or art next year.”
Some teachers may have to leave the school due to cutbacks, Vilardi added.
“My hope is that each person returns to us or finds a job someplace else,” he said.
Even though Cape schools and those across the county are feeling the economic pinch, Skyline’s student population has continued to earn high academic achievements.
Vilardi said 16 students formed the first-ever National Elementary Honor Society, the only group of its kind in Lee County.
Vilardi was also named 2008-09 Elementary School Principal of the Year by the Guidance Counselor Association for Lee County.