Would you believe in a 30-year-old Twinkie in the name of science?

The essence of science is to ask questions. Questions like, “How does a 30-year-old Twinkie taste?”

This particular survey was done in the pre-Google year of 1992 by fifth-grade students from John Park at the Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet School in San Jose. They sealed two of the sponge cake snacks – which pop culture says will survive anything – in a PVC time capsule, which was among several discoveries to mark the 50th anniversary of the city’s unique outdoor classroom. ‘school.

Park returned to school for a Friday morning celebration where he was joined by Lucita Cady, one of his students in 1992 who engaged with the rest of his class – in writing – to taste the old Twinkie in 2022. Park took a bite of the Twinkie, discolored brown and stuck to its plastic wrapper, and Cady took a bite. The verdict?

“It tastes like PVC,” Park said.

Science is all about learning, kids, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be gross too.

Lucita Cady, left, and Hacienda School principal Todd Weber, right, watch as former Hacienda teacher John Park bites into a Twinkie preserved in 1992 in a time capsule at the outdoor classroom of school during a celebration on Friday, April 22, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

The other oblong capsules contained a multitude of artifacts from the 1990s: Joe Montana and Bo Jackson sports cards, several “Beverly Hills, 90210” trading cards, a Fantasy 5 lotto ticket, a poster of “The Simpsons” (yes, they’ve been around that long), an MC Hammer tape (remember that? him?), well-preserved newspapers and magazines, and even a 3.5-inch floppy disk.

But the most treasured items might be the letters the students wrote to their future selves. Cady read part of hers aloud to the crowd of more than 50 people who gathered at the school for the celebration. She wondered if she had grown up to be an actress and hoped that a cure for AIDS had been discovered. Ten-year-old Lucita wrote that she listens to Hot 97.7, noting that it was a radio station, just in case those don’t exist in the future.

Cady, who now lives in the Sacramento area, said reading the letter and watching a video interview each member of her class did with Park in 1992 made her happy to encourage the dreams of her children – Aiyana, 9, and 14-year-old Isaias, who accompanied her on Friday. “It doesn’t happen to people. Who can hear from themselves when they were 10? said Cady, who works as a sales manager. “It’s once in a lifetime.”

A Joe Montana sports card, ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ trading cards and a California lottery ticket were among the 1992 artifacts recovered from time capsules for the outdoor classroom’s anniversary celebration. the Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet School on April 22, 2022 in San Jose. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

And it all goes back to the outdoor classroom, which was created at the height of the environmental movement in 1971 in what was then Valley View Elementary School near the Almaden Freeway and Hillsdale Avenue. Retired teacher Edy Young was at Friday’s 50th anniversary event — they extended it for a year because of the pandemic — and told the origin story of how teachers, staff and parents came together to transform a vacant one-acre land plot into a representation of the surrounding plant communities of the Santa Clara Valley so suburban students could connect with nature before it does not disappear.

The surrounding cherry orchards were being converted to housing, so the school received 157 dump truck loads of orchard topsoil to create hills. A few years later, another teacher, Carolyn Flanagan, joined other volunteers to create the concrete-lined ponds and streambeds and plant redwood seedlings that dominate the space today. . In the late 1970s, the outdoor classroom was abandoned after Valley View’s science program was eliminated, and a fire in the early 1980s led to the scrapping of much of the original landscaping.

San Jose Water paid for much of the 1992 renovation of the Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet School’s outdoor classroom, including renovations to the ponds, pumps, and sprinkler system. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Young and Flanagan returned to the school in the 80s and San Jose Water “adopted” the school and paid for much of a massive space expansion and renovation that was completed in 1992 While many people and groups contributed to the effort, many who spoke at Friday’s event credited the incredible work to project manager Randal Locke, who oversaw the renovation of the pond, creek, pumps and sprinkler system. He did such a good job that it took San Jose Water workers using heavy equipment 10 hours to dismantle the monolith containing the time capsules. (Hacienda parent David Manzo made a time-lapse video of the demolition which can be found on his Bejaw Productions YouTube channel.)

Locke wrote a note in one of the capsules thanking the people who worked on the project. It said: “Dear friends from the future, The names listed here represent the best people of our time. They cared enough in the midst of a deep recession to build this unique project. I sincerely hope that most will return in April 2022.”

Many crews from 1992 were there on Friday, but not Locke, who died in 2017. His wife, Teresa, and daughter, Lindsay, however, represented him and received a white helmet, adorned with a yellow lightning bolt and a bulb, which he carried.

Lindsay Locke holds up a helmet that belonged to her father, Randal Locke, who was the project manager for the 1992 expansion of the Hacienda School’s outdoor classroom. He died in 2017. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Water corporate communications manager Sharon Whaley, whose program and name tag from the 1992 dedication was included in a time capsule, said Locke had “constant vision.”

“He was, ‘It could be big. It could be better. We could do more. We could do it. We had to put the brakes on it because this project had to come to an end. So Randal had remained in everyone’s memory.

And that includes John Park. When he told Locke about the idea of ​​putting a Twinkie in one of the time capsules, “he said we couldn’t do that because there was too much humidity,” Park recalled. “The next day he showed up with the perfect Twinkie-sized time capsule.”

STILL SHOWING: If you missed the premiere screening of director Bob Gliner’s “Queer Silicon Valley” documentary in February, it will screen again on April 27 at the Hammer Theater Center in downtown San Jose. Tickets for the 7 p.m. film — co-produced by the BAYMEC Community Foundation — are $10 at the door, and you can learn more about the landmark project from former Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, who gave birth to film at www.queersiliconvalley.org.

GARDEN PARTY: The annual San Jose Garden Club Plant Sale will be held April 29-30 at 1190 Camino Ramon, between Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue, in San Jose. Offerings include flowers, vegetables and succulents grown by club members, and proceeds will benefit nonprofits including Veggielution, Our City Forest, Valley Verde and The Sacred’s La Mesa Verde Garden Project. Heart Community Service. It operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

HONOR A LEGACY: Retired Superior Court Justice LaDoris Cordell will be the keynote speaker for the 11th annual Jim McEntee Scholarship, which will be held virtually April 26. named in memory of McEntee, who founded the nonprofit organization Friends of Human Relations in Santa Clara County in 1985. Go to www.friendsofhumanrelations.org for a link to the Zoom webinar.

About Susan Dailey

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