By Nick Beversdorf
The last day of school is a day filled with joy as classes graduate and students leave for the summer. In addition to the end of year activities that schools do, Kate Goodrich Elementary School had a special treat for its students this year.
For 18 years, a locked wooden box sat atop a high shelf in the Kate Goodrich library. Principal Mark Jahnke, in coordination with other faculty, opened the box to reveal to students what was inside. The box, which was essentially a time capsule from 1998 when the school was first built, included items such as VHS tapes, a MAPS reflection newspaper and calendar, newspaper clippings and a booklet that included information such as popular movies, cars, songs and bands of 1997 that then-students had filled out.
“It’s a reflection on Lincoln and Franklin Elementary schools,” comments Mark. “When the schools came together to form Kate Goodrich, this box was created to show how life was different during that period, especially for students and teachers.”
After Kate Goodrich was built, Lincoln Elementary was eventually demolished and a Walgreens took its place. Franklin Elementary has since been converted into apartments.
Merrill Historical Society President Bea Lebal was also in attendance; she showcased many of the items in the box alongside Mark. The items will be put on display at the Merrill Historical Society at a later date.
The reason that the time capsule was opened at the odd interval of 18 years was because it was meant more as a tribute to Mark, who will be retiring at the end of this academic year. He, along with Christine Schmelling and Donna Hoeppner – both teachers who had previously been teaching with MAPS and moved to Kate Goodrich when it was built – helped put together many of the items that were in the box including interviews of students who worked on the project.
Mark Jahnke has been with the district for 32 years; he has taught at Midway, Lincoln, Pine River, Franklin, Maple Grove and most recently at Kate Goodrich as principal. The opening of the time capsule symbolizes Mark’s time at Kate Goodrich coming full circle, a mark left by the first round of 5th grade students leaving Kate Goodrich being met with his last time seeing them off, 18 years later.