|The morning of 9-11-10, School Board Trustee Eric Cowan, Pinkston Principal Norma Villegas, DISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert posed together before they boarded a bus to knock on doors and bring back students who had not yet returned to school. They are standing in front of the School Archive, a 540-pound vault bolted to the floor in the Pinkston High School lobby a few weeks earlier. It is part of a 10-year time-capsule and class reunion/mentoring project that is helping more students graduate through a constant reminder of their own plans for the future. This will be the first year for the School Archive Projects starting at both Pinkston and Edison.|
1. All students and parents write a letter the first month of school. The first meetings with parents will involve a description of the School Archive Project and the need for them to write a letter to their child about their dreams for their child. They should write stories from their family history providing the roots from which they are sending their child into the world, as well as their dreams and hopes for their child. They should write about how they are willing to help their child achieve these goals. This letter may someday be a priceless possession for their child, and even their grand children, and great grand children. It will be a document for the family history just as the letters their children will write may also become valuable family history documents. These parental letters are then used by students to write their own letters to themselves in Language Arts classes about their plans for the future. Such letters will help students focus on their critical long term goals.
2. Both these letters, the parent's letter and the student's letter, are then placed together into one envelope. Each student seals their envelope and places their name and home address on it. These envelopes are placed into the School Archive, 530-pound vault, bolted to the floor in the school lobby in a location passed by all students many times each day.
3. These envelopes stay in the vault during the middle school years, until the last month of 8th grade, just before students leave for high school. Hopefully what these letters represent is a common topic of conversation during the middle school years. Teachers may use the existence of this letter, and the plans for future letters and the eventual Class Reunion, in times where future focus and motivation may be needed to help a student focus on work.
4. The letters are pulled from the vault the last month of 8th grade, returned to the students, to be used to write a second set of letters by both parents and students. Their dreams and life goals are updated to focus 10-years into the future. Both new letters are then placed into another self-addressed envelope.
5. This time the students themselves place their envelopes onto the shelf for their class inside the School Archive Vault. This happens on “Archiving Day,” a day at the end of 8th grade when 8th grade students pose with the class in which they wrote their letters for a photo. They stand together, in front of the School Archive Vault, holding their letter. After the photo they place the letter into the vault themselves. They know they will receive their letters back as they return for their 10-year 8th grade class reunion.
6. They each receive two copies of the photo taken that day, one for them and one for their parents. On the back of the photo are the details of the Archive Project including the estimated dates and details for their 10-year 8th grade class reunion.
7. It is recommended that the 10-year reunions happen the week of Thanksgiving. Then the current students will have 6 months to digest what they hear before they write their own final 10-year letters focusing 10 years into their own future. A school tradition has been established.
8. The details on the back of the photo include the fact that, at the Class 10-year Reunion, they will also be invited to speak with the then current 8th grade classes. They will be asked to talk about their recommendations for success. They should be prepared for questions from the decade younger students such as: "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"