By Kath Gannaway
In 35 years of teaching, Pat Hillas says he has never seen a school event to rival Seville Primary School’s 130th birthday celebration on Sunday, 12 November.
The highlight was undoubtedly the opening of a time capsule buried 30 years ago as part of the school’s centenary celebrations.
The capsule was buried at the entrance to the school where new gates were erected to mark the centenary.
“We had two or three hundred people watching the unearthing,” he says recreating the moment when the bricks that have protected the capsule were removed.
“Underneath was a mortar bed, under that a layer of sand, then a plastic shield and underneath that a concrete tile,” he said still excited by the process.
Under that was the capsule – a beer vat containing among other things students’ work, old school newsletters, newspapers of the time, canteen price lists, an item of school uniform, school council notes and video footage of the centenary.
“It was like opening a tomb,” Mr Hillas said.
A very special item was a bottle of Seville Estate 1982 Shiraz which, he said, was perfectly preserved, crystal clear and very tempting!
The time capsule was part of a full day of celebrations including a fete and activities organised and run by students and staff.
School president of the day, Paul Weller and Brad Martin who was project manager for the centenary entrance project buried the capsule and were recalled to unearth it.
Both men served on the school council together.
Mr Martin said it was a privilege to be invited back for such a special day.
“When we finished the gates and put together the time capsule, there were a lot of people in their eighties and nineties who are well and truly gone now,” he said.
“I was 35, so you wonder ‘will I be around’, and the plan was always to open it at 25 years, but time went by and it was decided to do it for the 130th.“
He said with four generations involved, it was a particularly special day.
“My dad was there on the day, and he also worked on the original project. My son Joel, who went to the school , and his son Flynn, were there so having another generation involved in a project at the school was wonderful,” he said.
Paul Weller also said it was a privilege to be asked to return.
“I was proud to be invited,” he said.
He said one of the great things about the day was catching up with ‘old faces we hadn’t seen for quite some time”.
While both men remembered much of what was included in the capsule, Mr Weller said to see an envelope with his handwriting on it did surprise him.
“The envelope wasn’t sealed, and I had written three pages on Seville East’s involvement and what it was like to be school president.
“The rest I had a fair idea of. We tried to include pieces from every day living that are all around you, a copy of Women’s Weekly, the kids’ writing and things like that,” he said.
Mr Hillas said the contents of the capsule covered two tables.
“There were lots of people here who were students at the time and it was quite emotional for some people.
“When we laid out the contents they were overwhelmed to see their work on the table with photos of themselves at the time, and to see how well it has survived.
Overwhelmingly, Mr Hillas said the enjoyment of former students and their families looking over the history walls of photos, searching through the old school rolls and catching up was one of the successes of the day.
Besides that the community spirit and involvement of the school community with 80 per cent of parents contributing to the event was overwhelming.
The capsule will be placed back in the ground with some current additions which reflect life in 2017, to be opened at the school’s 150th celebrations.