When Lincoln Junior High School in Naperville opened its doors in the fall of 1963, the area was so new that the some of the local authorities were completely unfamiliar with it.
“We had a fire and called the Fire Department, but they didn’t even know where it was,” said Carol Brand Price, the original Lincoln secretary, sitting in the school’s gymnasium Friday evening.
Brand Price joined several hundred people from 250 families in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school that first opened its doors as a K-8 school, only to change later into a junior high feeding into Naperville Central High School.
Catering was provided by Domino’s Pizza, a disk jockey spun the popular records of the last half-century, and visitors could bid in a free raffle on items ranging from a movie night at AMC Cinemas, gift cards to Anderson’s Bookshop and unique items such as “speed passes” allowing students to go to the head of the line in the lunchroom.
But the main event was the opening of a time capsule buried on the school’s 25th anniversary.
Principal Patrick Gaskin and school librarian Bonita Slovinsky presided over unlocking the trunk and provided a running commentary for students straining to get a look.
Some of the things buried by the Class of 1988, like school T-shirts, a stuffed doll, a Lancer mascot and various textbooks looked familiar to students.
But other items, like a manual for an Apple 11e — still in the protective plastic — and a floppy disk, definitely fell into the category of historical artifacts.
Had there been a time capsule buried when Lincoln originally opened, the objects would no doubt have been even more foreign to today’s students.
Naperville’s population then was around 15,000 people, and the population boom fueled by the arrival of the nearby high-tech institutions like Amoco Research Center and Fermilab was only just beginning.
Since then, Lincoln has not only gained the obvious affection of the community, but also produced graduates noted in the world of sports like professional basketball star Candace Parker, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and professional football player Owen Daniels.
Lincoln graduates have also contributed to the arts, as witnessed by the careers of television actor David Eigenberg (“Sex and the City” and “Chicago Fire”) and theatrical actor Andy Redeker.
Gaskin credited the community and the school district for the show of affection.
“It’s a celebration like this that symbolizes the strength of the district, especially over time,” he said. “It shows how important the school is to the community.”
Heather Rajamoney, Class of 1985, helped organize the event.
“I feel proud to be able to come back tho this area,” she said. “And now my daughter is a Lancer!”
Other returning graduates echoed Rajamoney’s sentiments.
“This is cool,” Pat Adamatis, Class of 1974, said. “I’m happy that some of the old teachers came back.”
Current Lincoln math teacher Amy Eissens helped organize the slide show on display in the gym. She enlisted the help of other volunteers and perused old yearbooks and asked other staff for personal photos.
“We tried to organize the slides chronologically, from beginning to end,” she said.
The preparations for the anniversary celebration began during the 2013-2014 school year and were the product of many volunteers.
“We were worried about the weather,” Jeri Blood said. “They (the administration) really wanted it outside.”
Her worry was misplaced, and another volunteer, Jenni Hoffmann, was relieved, saying “you never know about the weather.”
Volunteer Kim Monreal was struck by the outpouring of support from the Naperville community, stressing the generosity of Domino’s Pizza and local merchants.
“No one will ever know how much they gave to us,” she said.
And no one was happier or more sentimental about the anniversary celebration than Brand Price, who retired in 1995 after 34 years with District 203.
“It was like my second home here,” she said. “I loved it. Being with kids keeps you young forever.”