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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

NT aims to preserve recent history with time capsule

Student-led project encapsulates school experiences from the pandemic and Gates
A+plaque+covers+the+front+of+the+time+capsule%2C+marking+the+seal+date
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A plaque covers the front of the time capsule, marking the seal date

To commemorate New Trier High School’s new east side building, the Student Activities and Athletics Departments put together a time capsule documenting COVID and the demolition of the Gates Gymnasium. The groups sealed the time capsule on Sept. 9 of this year, and future Trevians will open it in 2073.

The project has been in the works for the last three years, since COVID first caused dramatic changes on the New Trier campus in the spring of 2020.

I certainly hope that whoever’s teaching history or social studies will take a look at [the time capsule], and that it will generate conversation and admiration.

— Stephanie Gamauf

The Athletic Department was responsible for showcasing the transformation of the Gates Gym, while Student Council and the Student Activities Department were responsible for documenting the pandemic.

Stephanie Gamauf, Spanish teacher and Student Council co-sponsor, helped work on the project.

“[Student Council] was remote,” she said, adding that because of remote learning, the group wanted to find new ways to connect students together. “We also try to enhance the student experience by representing all student perspectives and voices.”

Student Council had the idea to create connections through different Zoom advisory challenges when New Trier went online.

“We were living through history, so we decided to make a project all about the experiences that we were living in [during] these unprecedented times,” Gamauf said. “So that time until the end of the hybrid year, we started compiling what this COVID time capsule [would] look like.”

They began collecting evidence showcasing the pandemic experience through a student survey, in which students wrote their names, favorite pastimes, shows they were watching, and current trends. Student Council also included masks, hand sanitizer, and 6-feet-apart signs in the time capsule.

“We learned about all sorts of stuff,” Gamauf said. “Kids took up knitting, pottery, baking, and [even] got into photography.”

Student Council then began to construct a timeline spanning from when the first case was reported to when New Trier became “normal” again.

“I want to say it was probably almost a 200 [page] slideshow of images and headlines of what happened in that year of COVID,” Gamauf said. “It became pretty epic.”

The slideshow was made into a YouTube video when students came back to school and shared with all of New Trier.

“It was pretty wild because you’re reliving your experience from pandemic puppies, to people having movies outside, to yoga on rooftops, to kids learning at home on a screen, like a little baby boy of 5 years old, to parents having to quit their jobs to stay home to support their kids’ learning, to the vaccines, to, at the time, President Trump catching COVID himself,” Gamauf said.

Student Council wasn’t sure how to best include the video in the time capsule, so they opted to print out all 200 slides.

Then, Gamauf said, “When they were constructing this new P.E. wing, we said ‘hey what if there’s a time capsule there?’”

So, together Gamauf and Stacy Kolack, the student activities coordinator and Student Council sponsor, and Augie Fontanetta, New Trier’s athletic director, helped collect information about the history of the old Gates Gym, and construction of what is now the E-Building.

The two departments joined together to work on the location of the capsule and its design. It uses the same colors and style as New Trier’s only other time capsule on the west side.

While that time capsule is located in the entrance to the school by Trevian Way, the east side time capsule is on the first floor of the E-Building near the elevator.

The Athletic Department added uniforms, articles about the building’s construction and the demolition of Gates Gym, and a piece of the Gates Gym floor.

Ultimately, those who worked on the project hope it will educate future generations on how New Trier was able to survive during COVID.

“I certainly hope that whoever’s teaching history or social studies will take a look at [the time capsule], and that it will generate conversation and admiration,” Gamauf said.

“It’s a tangible piece of history, and it really just captures what we lived through. It allowed us to see the pandemic really through its cycle,” Kolack said, “It started off in a bleak place in our history and came around full circle.”

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