Penns Valley

Penns Valley high school celebrates completion of renovation project with time capsule

To commemorate the completion of an $18 million renovation project, the Penns Valley Area School District added one more feature to the revamped high school ⁠— a time capsule.

Student Council and National Honor Society members held a ceremony on Tuesday at Penns Valley Area High School, celebrating the installation of the capsule and the overall renovation project. Now complete, construction added a new 1,200 seat gymnasium, an upgraded auditorium, modernized library, updated administrative offices, a new front facade, entryway and band facility, and air conditioning was installed throughout the building.

Constructed in 1955, Penns Valley High School officially opened in September 1956, said Martin Tobias, Penns Valley social studies teacher and Rams head coach. Since opening, the school has seen three renovation projects in 1968, 1996 and 2017.

“Obviously, education in 2017 (was) very, very different than what education in 1955 (and) 1956 was,” said Penns Valley High School Principal Dustin Dalton.

Prior to the 2017 project, Dalton said district staff toured other schools to gauge what work the school building needed. By the end of the planning process, administrators narrowed their ideas down to three priorities — athletics, comfort and innovative spaces.

Before the renovation, Dalton said students used hallways and empty lobbies to work on assignments. With the renovation, he said they now have collaborative, multi-use classrooms designed to house students working on group projects.

“We all believe that collaboration is the key in moving forward,” Dalton said.

To fill the time capsule, Dalton asked members of the class of 2019 and the class of 2020 to collaborate on items to put inside. Last year’s graduates wrote letters to themselves while current seniors were responsible for finding objects to include that were representative of Penns Valley and its students.

Students donated Penns Valley swimming caps, photos, cellphone cases, wristbands, scrunchies and dodge balls to be included in the time capsule, which will be placed in the cornerstone of the newly built gymnasium.

“What’s a cellphone going to look like in 50 years?” Dalton said. “Are you even going to have cellphones, or are you just going to have some kind of chip in your arm and walk around and talk into it?”

The capsule will be opened in 30-50 years.

“The idea behind it is to leave something interesting for the class to find,” he said. “We could not go without placing the yearbook in there. If you’ve ever looked at a yearbook from 50 years ago, just the hairstyles alone are enough.”

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.