Time capsule mysteries to be revealed

Former Ashburton College English teacher Denise O’Halloran and former student Steve Carr are looking forward to opening 3BT’s time capsule on August 2.
Photo Linda Clarke


A secret kept for 50 years and the self-written dreams of an Ashburton College English class 23 years ago will be revealed at a special school event next month.

The August 2 event will celebrate the college’s $50 million rebuild, due to begin in late 2020, and is being organised by the school’s past pupil group, Ashcoll Alumni.

A time capsule found by alumni co-ordinator Shirley Falloon in the school’s archives will be opened on the night.

The capsule was the work of English teacher Denise O’Halloran and the class of 3BT in 1996.

O’Halloran said yesterday she remembered the lesson, in which she asked her third form (today’s Year 9) English class to profile themselves.

Students were asked to write about who they were and what they were interested in, and what they wanted to do in the future.

The work was bundled up and sealed in a large brown envelope with instructions to be opened at the college’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

That event was held in 2015, but the time capsule had been forgotten.

Ashburton accountant Steve Carr remembers the English class project and will be among a handful of classmates on hand when the capsule is opened.

“I am not much of a writer so I probably only got to three-quarters of a page.

“It was tortuous for me to write.”

He said he would take a couple of minutes to look over the work of his 13-year-old self before reading it aloud at the gathering.

He can’t recall what he wrote and is prepared for a moment of embarrassment.

Carr has been spreading the word amongst 3BT class members and hopes as many as possible will attend.

O’Halloran remembers the youngster sitting between Andrew Baird and Scott McCracken – “three bright boys” – in her class.

They are still friends.

Carr said O’Halloran came to his rescue in his last year at school when he wanted to drop compulsory English for a numbers-related subject.

In those days an exemption was needed.

He was allowed to study physics instead and went on the following year to study accounting and economics at the University of Canterbury, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce.

O’Halloran taught English for 30 years at the college, retiring only a few years ago.

She misses school life and her students, but continues to observe with interest the evolution of the language and the impact of social media.

Falloon said the August 2 alumni event was being held in the college staffroom, with tours of the college by senior students starting at 4pm.

She said it would be 50 years almost to the day since the prime minister at the time Keith Holyoake laid the foundation stone at the college.

Ashburton High School and Ashburton Technical School merged in 1965, though it was several years before the existing school on Walnut Avenue was built.

Earlier this year prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced $50m would be spent rebuilding the campus.

Principal Ross Preece will speak at the alumni event about how the development will proceed.

The college has a current roll of around 1200 students and the rebuild will provide space for future role growth up to 1600 students.

Falloon said there would also be a “rather shocking but funny” revelation, about the antics of a former student during the Holyoake visit in 1969.

She was a first-year student at the time and said the entire school was under strict instructions to be on their best behaviour during the visit.

But it has been revealed recently that was not the case.

Falloon said she hoped as many former students and staff as possible would attend and share their own memories.

There will be old school photos on display around the staffroom as well as some former uniforms.

People wanting to attend need to register online via the alumni’s webpage or facebook.

The cost of admission is $20, with proceeds going to the school’s Phoenix Rising choir.

– By Linda Clarke

The students of Ashburton College class 3BT created the time capsule in an English lesson with teacher Denise O’Halloran.