The spirit of East High School lives not in bricks and mortar but in generations of students, principal Kay Petersen says.
Monday, Leopard pride was captured in time.About 350 alumni, students and officials gathered to dedicate a time capsule filled with yearbooks and photos from decades past and present, letters to future generations, the district's strategic plan and its history - including lawsuits over a gay-straight alliance and Christian songs sung by a West High choir.
The capsule also contains photos and memorabilia retrieved from a 1912 time capsule discovered at the old school's demolition two years ago. Those photos and other contents had been displayed in the school office.
"East High School is great not because of the brick and mortar that went into building this school, but because of the students, the teachers . . . and those who have pioneered the way," said Karen Derrick, president of the Salt Lake City Board of Education.
After placing the steel box in a pillar framing the front doors of the new building constructed in 1997, student body officers and school and community officials helped entomb it with a granite cornerstone, sealed with concrete smoothed with the help of alumni and students.
Student body president Noah Eyre even tasted the wet plaster to cap the experience. "I'm just glad to be here in this year of dedication to the new school."
Ditto for student body vice president Jamie Steffensen. "It's real exciting that people . . . 86 years from now (a reference to the number of years that expired before the 1912 time capsule was opened) will see what we put in there," she said.
The 1912 time capsule instilled in students not only school pride but a slice of American history, a time before cell phones, microwaves, computers and the information superhighway, said district Superintendent Darline Robles.
"I can only imagine what the world will be like in 86 years," Robles said in a ceremony kicked off with an ROTC seven-gun salute.
The statement resonates with former U.S. senator and 1951 East High alumnus Jake Garn. Once lamenting not making the varsity basketball team, Garn would succeed his close friend's dad, Wallace Bennett, in the U.S. Senate. Oddly enough, that friend, Bob Bennett, would succeed him at the nation's capital, with classmate Jim Hansen in the House of Representatives.
And space travel was completely out of the question in Garn's school days. But now, the astronaut can say he and his East High ivory letter sweater, now bearing a NASA pin, have orbited the earth 109 times. By the way, the sweater still fits, as Garn demonstrated to an applauding crowd.
"How could I have anticipated the teens who went to this school would have the opportunities I had?" Garn said. "I cannot predict what you will be able to do. But education is the key."