A 25-year-old time capsule at Robert E. Lee High School revealed a variety of items associated with an anti-drug campaign in the late 1980s.
A group of current and former students, administrators and teachers gathered in the school's west cafeteria to open a small plastic container holding T-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, newspaper clippings, buttons and cassette tapes all with an anti-drug message.
Pat Harris, Lee's director of student activities at the time, said then Principal Billy Hall “cracked the whip” on students and faculty encouraging them to say no to drugs.
Ms. Harris said student athletes and organization members regularly underwent drug testing on campus.
“The emphasis was very high at this time of no drugs on our campuses,” Ms. Harris said before she and others opened the box.
Joshua Jarred, Lee's associate principal of campus operations, said they planned then to open it in the spring when 2012 came around.
The lid's message gave some clue as to its contents. The top read in part, “Memorabilia from R.E. Lee and ‘Tyler says No!' week. March 16-20, 1987.”
Once former students and administrators opened the box, they took turns along with current students and staff members taking out the items.
“It's amazing how much they could get in that box,” one person said after an item was pulled out.
In addition to the anti-drug memorabilia, the former students also included newspaper clippings from Lee's Southern Accent and the Tyler Morning Telegraph. The clippings featured articles about the school's anti-drug effort.
Perhaps one of the most interesting items was a “Declaration of Independence.” Students wrote their own version of the document relating it to the anti-drug campaign. Additional large pieces of paper held the signatures of the students.
She said the students joined hands around campus to show their support and solidarity in facing the drug issue.
Hall said at the time his supervisors encouraged him to do whatever it took to get drugs off campus so he did.
“We went through a lot of negative when we first did it, but when we got back from the holidays, it all settled down,” he said of the year they started the effort. “Hopefully, you all are still keeping it together.”
He said the student leaders on campus likely will create their own time capsule with pictures of the campus, news articles and other things to leave a message for future students.
Jarred said the capsule inspired him to challenge this year's students to leave a message for future generations.
He said there are many strong student leaders on campus who want to make a difference.
He said some of the words or messages they leave for future generations could inspire people 25 years from now.
“What is our message?” he said he asked them.