Time capsule opened to celebrate 30 years at Palo Alto College

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Robert Sifuentes, Joshua Martinez and Thomas Gonzalez, South San Antonio High School seniors, look at letters they put in a time capsule as third graders in 2006.  Photo by Pam Paz

Robert Sifuentes, Joshua Martinez and Thomas Gonzalez, South San Antonio High School seniors, look at letters they put in a time capsule as third graders in 2006. Photo by Pam Paz

Leandro Esparza, coordinator for student success for Palo Alto College’s welcome and advising center, empties the contents of a time capsule buried in 2006 Wednesday on the lawn of Concho Hall. The time capsule was filled with letters, photos, T-shirts, video games and other memorabilia by the Palo Alto Elementary School third-grade class of 2006. The students are now seniors in high school and are eligible for a two-year scholarship to Palo Alto, contingent on fall enrollment, full-time status and a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.  Photo by Pam Paz

Leandro Esparza, coordinator for student success for Palo Alto College’s welcome and advising center, empties the contents of a time capsule buried in 2006 Wednesday on the lawn of Concho Hall. The time capsule was filled with letters, photos, T-shirts, video games and other memorabilia by the Palo Alto Elementary School third-grade class of 2006. The students are now seniors in high school and are eligible for a two-year scholarship to Palo Alto, contingent on fall enrollment, full-time status and a minimum of a 2.5 GPA. Photo by Pam Paz

PAC marks occasion by giving scholarships to seniors who attended Palo Alto Elementary.

By Cynthia M. Herrera

cherrera151@student.alamo.edu

In 2006, Palo Alto Elementary School’s third-grade class buried a time capsule with mementos from their childhood in Palo Alto College’s Concho Hall Lawn. Nearly a decade later, those students — now teenagers at South San Antonio High School — unearthed and opened that time capsule Feb. 24 as part of PAC’s 30th anniversary.

The capsule included their photos and letters the students wrote to themselves about their dream careers. Stuffed animals and video games were also found within the capsule.

When PAC opened its doors in 1985, it was the only college or university south of Highway 90.

Now the college has more than 20 buildings, including a state-of-the-art performing arts center and an aquatics center, built in partnership with the City of San Antonio, that attracts 26,000 annual visitors.

PAC has educated more than 100,000 students, PAC President Mike Flores said. Some of the school’s distinct programs are aviation technology, landscape and horticultural science, oil and gas technology and veterinary technology. PAC will offer cosmetology starting March 23, as a Flex II course.

“We want to help affirm their dreams, what they want to do, what they want to study,” Flores said. “The passion that they’ve talked about with their family members through the years, what they’ve hoped to do, what they aspire to do.”

To that end, the college’s “Promise to the Future” commitment will award scholarships this fall to 40 graduating seniors who were students of Palo Alto Elementary. In 2006, the college had agreed if students graduated from high school, they would receive a scholarship that would cover tuition and fees at PAC.

The total cost for the scholarships is $225,000.

To qualify, the students must enroll at Palo Alto in August for 12 hours each semester for two years, as well as maintain a minimum of a 2.5 grade point average.

Abelardo Saavedra, superintendent of South San Antonio Independent School District, said South San Antonio High School will partner with Palo Alto this year to launch a new school.

“It will be known as South San Early College High School in partnership with Palo Alto,” Saavedra said.

The partnership will start in the fall of 2015 with the ninth-grade class, which will be the first graduating class for the new early college in 2019.

Ricardo “Richie” Perez, 18, was speaker on behalf of South San’s senior class.

“Back then, it (the scholarship) didn’t mean much to me because I wasn’t too sure exactly what college was about,” Perez said. “Today, it means opportunity for higher education without the stress of being in debt. It means we can be productive members of our community.”

Clarissa Medina, 18, said recovering the items in the capsule was an emotional experience. The letter Medina wrote to herself on Feb. 6, 2006, said she would be a veterinarian who would help animals that were sick and treat them right.

“It was kind of emotional in a way because we got to see all the things like when we were little and now that we’re older,” Medina said. “It didn’t mean much but now it helps a lot, especially because they gave us the scholarship.”

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