Special Projects Preserve Memories, Envision The Future

  • Ravens Rewind
Special Projects Preserve Memories, Envision The Future
Laurel Caplan ’24

With time capsules and letters to their future selves, Ravens capture their passions and dreams — and then get to relive them as they prepare to move on.

A crucial competency in helping Ravenscroft students change their world is the power of reflection. For over 20 years now, Ravens have had the opportunity to capture a point in time by creating time capsules and writing letters to be opened at important milestones in their future. Read on to explore the traditions students in each division enjoy.

Photos from 2019 capture the time capsules and memory books made by Sherri Ausbon’s kindergarten students.

Lower School: “Something to celebrate”

One special tradition was started in the Lower School in 1999 by kindergarten teacher Sherri Ausbon. She and her colleagues were in a planning meeting for the upcoming school year and wanted to do something to celebrate the year 2000. They eventually came up with the idea to have students create time capsules as a way to save artifacts from the momentous year to be opened after their graduation. The capsules themselves were constructed using clear, two-liter soda bottles that were spray-painted gold. An opening was cut into the side of the bottle, through which the items were inserted.

Ausbon said that she compiled a list of suggested items for students to include, but it was tweaked from year to year as student interests and activities changed. Some of the constant items included writing samples from both the beginning and the end of the year, a string of yarn indicating each student’s height, photos of their room, letters from family and popular trending toys/items from that year. She would also include “something to celebrate” with, such as a bottle of bubbles, on graduation day.

“They were really excited to take them home” at the end of the year, Ausbon, who retired from Ravenscroft in 2020, remembered.

Several of Ausbon’s students from across the years were thrilled to share their memories of opening the time capsules after graduation. 

Middle School: “A time of tremendous change”

Lower Schoolers aren’t the only Ravens to enjoy such moments. As far back as 1995, students in the Middle School have been writing letters to their future selves, a kind of time capsule that captures their hopes and goals for the future. Jim Kababik, who was the Middle School counselor from 1995 to 2012, is credited with starting the tradition, in which sixth-grade students write letters to themselves that they will open at the end of their eighth-grade year.

Kababik’s successor, Lorelei Lindow, helped keep this tradition alive, starting the process in language arts classes at the beginning of the school year. She said the exercise “allowed me to introduce myself and my role at the school as well as for me to get to know students.” Students joining Ravenscroft in the seventh or eighth grade were involved in a Newcomers Group that also participated in the activity. “Middle School is a time of tremendous change, and this activity encourages students to be curious about their futures,” she said.

Current Middle School counselor Merritt Cole has continued to refine the experience. She recently created a template of ideas, which sixth-graders used when they wrote their letters in February. The template contains ideas for how students might capture their current experiences as well as their goals and predictions for the future.

“What I have found most exciting and surprising about the ‘Letter to My Future Self’ activity is the enthusiasm and anticipation our eighth-graders have to read their letters,” she said. “In my first year taking part in this activity, I thought perhaps the eighth-graders would have forgotten about writing their letters back in sixth grade. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised that they frequently stopped by my office to ask when they would get to read their letters. The day we open the letters, there is always palpable excitement in the air and students have such a fun and meaningful experience reading their letters!”

Middle School letters — some playfully decorated or featuring words of encouragement — await the Class of 2028 when they arrive at the end of their eighth-grade year.

Upper School: Thinking about graduation and beyond

The letter-writing tradition has since been adopted in the Upper School, with ninth-graders imagining what they — and the world — will be like when they graduate. Given their heightened focus on what will come after graduation, many Upper Schoolers think deeply about what they write down.

Alumni: Do you have a special memory about one of these activities during your time at Ravenscroft? Share it with your classmates and friends on our Alumni Facebook page!

Above, time capsules for Sherri Ausbon’s 2016-17 kindergarten class are ready for students to take home and save until graduation.

About Laurel Caplan ’24

I am a sophomore and am in my fourth year at Ravenscroft. 

In addition to writing, I enjoy photography, video editing, following Formula One racing and reading. In my free time, I participate in the WRAL Post 5 youth broadcasting program and volunteer at Quail Ridge Books.

I hope this story inspires you to make your own time capsule. Personally, I like to create videos and monthly music playlists to capture points in my life.