OTTUMWA — Ottumwa High School senior Lily Streeby didn’t want her graduating class to leave high school behind without giving them a chance to reflect on their memories.
The familiar landmarks of prom and graduation are gone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So Lily came up with a time capsule.
“We’re kind of missing out on our last chance to make memories with the people that we’ve grown up with,” Lily said. “So I feel like our class was kind of disadvantaged in that way. So I wanted to have something — a kind of last big thing to bring us all together, to have something to bond over later.”
Kolby Streeby, Lily’s mom and OHS youth counselor and facilitator for the teen outreach program, loved the idea.
“I thought it was a really amazing idea,” Kolby said. “The end goal for this is for the time capsule to be revealed at their 20-year class reunion or reopened. You do kind of forget those things that happened when you graduated. This would be a good time for them to look back and kind of see how far they’ve come in those 20 years.”
According to Kolby, no graduating senior class from OHS has had a time capsule. It is exciting for her and Lily because it’s a new concept.
“From a mom’s point of view they are an amazing group of students,” Kolby said. “I have had the pleasure of watching them grow up and have had to overcome many things these last few weeks and get used to the new normal. I think looking back when they open this in 20 years it’s going to be pretty extraordinary.”
“I know for me personally my last few memories of high school are about this whole situation right now and not being able to be there,” Lily said. “I think the time capsule can give us other things to remember when we might forget some of the good things that have happened during this time, too.”
There are also other ways the class of 2020 are making and holding onto positive memories. For starters, Lily said, it involves the class reaching out to one another via social media.
“It feels good to know that we’re still in each other’s hearts,” Lily said. “I know one student — he’s pretty tech savvy — and he’s planning on putting together a video of just clips that students send to him just to play for our class. I know there’s a lot of different ways that we’re kind of trying to make ourselves feel better, and that’s something I’ll remember fondly about this time.”
As Lily looks to the future and thinks about the time capsule, she said there is something she would say to her “future self” as well as next year’s graduating class.
“I suppose it’s not really as much of a piece of advice,” Lily said, “as it is just something to consider, but I think for future me and just any obstacles that I might encounter — just remembering that I was able to stay positive through something is kind of insane as this, then I’ll be able to power through whatever else I encounter.
“For advice for next year’s students,” Lily added, “I would definitely tell them not to take anything for granted, just to value the time they have left with their classmates because in any second it can all change very quickly.”
At this time, Lily and Kolby are accepting items for the time capsule. Items that can fit into a time capsule such as news clippings, photos, high school memorabilia, etc. may be dropped off at Ottumwa Schools district office, 1112 N. Van Buren, in the lower level entry between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. For more information, contact Kolby Streeby at firstname.lastname@example.org.