Arcadia Middle Schoolers Chronicle Pandemic Experiences for Library Time Capsule

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From left to right, back row, are Arcadia Middle School media center specialist Jeanne Pruitt, teacher Nicholas Walker, and Assistant Principal Lloyd Tyler. In the next row of adults standing are teachers Andrea Misener, Laurie Harmon, and Heidi Pride, ESPL Youth Services Librarian Tiffany Flores, ESPL Director Cara Burton, Superintendent Chris Holland, and Principal Wandnetta McCray. In the back row of students seated are Nathan Allen Green, Daniela Larreinaga-Bertrand, and Ciara Abbott. In the front row of students seated are Barbara Toussaint, Makiyah Davis, Sarah Taylor, and Jordyn HInmon. Photo by Edward Taylor.

By Stefanie Jackson – Arcadia Middle School is the only school on the Eastern Shore that was selected as a winner in a contest to determine the contents of a time capsule to be stored in the historical archives of the new Eastern Shore Public Library (ESPL) in Parksley.

“2021 marks an important year with the opening of the Heritage Center in the new library. It also, hopefully, marks the end to the pandemic,” stated the announcement of the contest, which ran from April 5, during National Library Week, to May 1.

The judges were impressed by the “well done and very moving” entries submitted by Arcadia Middle School students and decided to compile all the submissions in a book to be stored in the time capsule.

“Collectively, the poems and essays were very personable and gave true insight into the students’ recognition that they are living through something historical affecting humankind. They testified that what they have experienced during the pandemic needs to be conveyed to future generations,” wrote ESPL Director Cara Burton in a congratulatory letter to Arcadia Middle School media specialist Jeanne Pruitt, who had shared the contest opportunity with her students.

Their achievement was celebrated June 4 with a pizza party in the Arcadia Middle School media center attended by several of the student writers, teachers, Burton, Pruitt, Principal Wandnetta McCray, school board member Edward Taylor, and Superintendent Chris Holland.

The 11 students honored were Ciara Abbott, Makiyah Davis, Nathan Allen Green, Jordyn Hinmon, Daniela Larreinaga-Bertrand, Sarah Taylor, and Barbara Toussaint, who attended the event, and Anna Nguyen, Christy Ortiz, Luis Pedro Ramirez-Cabrera, and Na’Kahi Wilson.

“This honor showcases the wonderful job schools are doing during a challenging academic year to promote reading and writing,” Pruitt wrote in an email.

The book also will include a group photo of the students and possibly additional photos of the middle school setting during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring face masks, plexiglass barriers, and extra cleaning and sanitizing measures.

One copy of the book will be kept in the time capsule in the archive room and another will stay in the main library.

The archive room is a 1,104-square-foot space with climate control to preserve the historical documents inside.

The time capsule and its contents will show “future generations … they can get through anything just like you are right now,” Burton said to the middle schoolers.

McCray told her students, “This is phenomenal, and I could not be more proud of each and everyone of you.”

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