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Huntington Beach elementary school time capsule offers blast from past

Daily Pilot - 11/17/2022

Nov. 18—People came for a time capsule ceremony, and a sort of walking time capsule showed up just in time.

The 100- year- old man strolled the halls of his former namesake slowly, and with the help of a walker, but confidently nonetheless.

William Kettler was the special guest at the Huntington Beach City School District 's time capsule opening at the former Kettler Elementary School on Tuesday night.

Kettler grew up in the city and graduated from Huntington Beach High in 1939. A U.S. Army veteran during World War II, he spent a total of 30 years as a trustee with the local school district and the Coast Community College District. Kettler Elementary School was named for him when it was dedicated during the 1972- 73 school year.

Kettler is an important figure in the city 's history. He walked in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands as a child and found Native American remains and arrowheads, which later would help thwart efforts from developers to build there.

"I was taught that you should give back to your community, " he told those in attendance on Tuesday night.

As for Kettler Elementary, it was closed in 2005. In December 2018, the site was repurposed after renovations and now serves as the Kettler Education Center.

The time capsule, installed in 1973, had not been opened since 2003. Tuesday 's ceremony served as a chance for community members, and former Kettler Cougars teachers and students, to reminisce about the school. Many of the former teachers at the school still meet monthly.

"This was a very close staff, " said Pati Strange, who taught at Kettler for more than 30 years and still is a substitute teacher in the district. "We were known as the best staff, you know ? When substitutes would come here, they would [say ] 'This staff is so friendly.'"

The time capsule 's contents were reviewed with the help of the Huntington Beach Masonic Lodge No. 380. When it was taken out of the wall, it was revealed that there were two envelopes, one from 1973 and one from 2003.

The envelope from 1973 featured news articles highlighting the school 's opening, pictures of the school and a district budget from that school year, which drew laughs.

The more recent envelope from 2003 featured a letter to future students written by Strange, as well as an interview of Strange by then- fifth grader Heather Percival, who was able to attend Tuesday 's ceremony.

It also featured messages to future students penned by other fifth graders, a copy of the Cougar News and a picture documenting that gas was just $1.73 a gallon. An advertisement from now- closed Two Brothers pizza in Fountain Valley, a T.V. Guide cover and a mailer from a local grocery store were some of the other artifacts kept.

Kettler students have gone on to do big things, Supt. Leisa Winston said in remarks to those in attendance. They include two- time U.S. Open of Surfing champion and Olympic surfing silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi, and Timmy Reyes, another future professional surfer.

"One of the staff remembers Kanoa coming to school one day, probably in first or second grade, and he had a surfing trophy as tall as he was, " Winston said.

Strange said the plan is to put more present- day items in the time capsule and put it back into the wall, to be discovered by the next generation.

She said she contacted Winston 's assistant, Jimmy Lambos, last year.

"I said, 'You know, Kettler 's going to be 50 years old, '" Strange said. "'Let 's open the time capsule and put some more stuff in it.' I took pictures of three gas stations, and I have a Vons ad from this year... It was a great, great school."

William Kettler is glad that people still think fondly of the former elementary school that bore his name. His daughter- in- law, Mary Pat, still teaches kindergarten in the district, at Smith Elementary.

Three of his four grandchildren were able to attend Tuesday 's ceremony, including Brett Kluewer.

"He 's a special man, a giving man, " Kluewer said. "He was able to leave his legacy."


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