The School Time Capsule Project is a very low dollar, less than $1 per student per year, way that helps students make and annually update written plans for their own futures. It started in 2005 in a struggling, inner city, 95% poverty rate, Hispanic middle school where students went on from there to a 33% graduation rate high school. Academic achievement and graduation rates immediately began to improve in 2006 with the new, written focus. Graduation rate is near 85% in 2017!
After constant improvements, including adding letters from parents, and the first of the annual 10-year class reunions, the 2015/16 School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) achieved at the original middle school was the highest in all of Dallas ISD among the 35 middle schools!
The project had also spread to 11 schools as of 2014. By 2016 significant SEI improvement had been documented in all 7 of the middle schools who regularly had students writing letters. Dallas ISD administration validated results and is excited! This year, 2017/18, Time Capsule Project is expanding to 3rd through 12th grades in a minimum of 20 additional DISD schools!
All students, grades 3 to 12, are starting the school year writing a letter to their parents asking for two things: “What are your dreams for me?” and “Will you write, in your letter to me, one story from our family history that you want me to tell to my children some day?”
Once they receive their letter from each parent, students talk with each of them about their letter, and with any other relatives or important adults in their life that they wanted a letter from. Then students bring all the letters to school. In school the second letter writing project involves students writing a letter to themselves about their plans for their future and how they are going to achieve the goals they write about. Then all the letters go into one self-addressed envelope for each student and are stored for the next school year. A 500-pound vault with 10 shelves inside called the School Time Capsule in the school lobby can be used. It is a helpful tool but not required as there are many ways to store letters to be returned to students. A vault is a recommended, helpful, and powerful symbol for students. (We are using a 25-cubic foot, $500 vaults from Costco with $100 invested in 10 shelves inside, with volunteers needed to deliver them to schools.)
Each school year the students receive back the letters from the year before, read them as well as giving those back to the relatives in their family who wrote letters. Everyone reads the old letters and writes a new letter on the same items documenting changes from the year before. Parents write a new story. Families are encouraged to have a place to store the letters being gathered for each of their children.
Students in the 8th and 12th grade write their letters planning 10 years into the future. Those letters stay in the School Time Capsule for the next decade until the students 10-year reunion. Those reunions are planned for a week or so before Career Day so returning students can volunteer to come on Career Day to speak with the students over a decade younger than them giving advice for life after school, and for success.
This page is under construction.
A blog covers more details about this project at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/