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Alumni Time Capsule Sealed into Front Monument

October 5th, 2011

Pictures by Art Cox

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Members of the Alumni Association gather around the time capsule.
In spite of a steady pour of chilly rain, a mason had successfully bricked the Patrick Henry College Alumni Association’s shiny silver time capsule into the College’s front monument by the end of Homecoming Week, Saturday, Oct. 1. The rectangular metal box held what a committee of former students deemed a representative sampling of the College’s first decade: a stack of printed documents in protective, acid-free folders, a DVD of a slideshow created for inaugural convocation, another DVD of the student film club’s campy PHC classic “Hitman,” and much more.

It also housed a sweater belonging to PHCs founder and chancellor, Dr. Michael Farris, apparently the first sweater ever to bear the College logo. All of this and more neatly filled the silver-plated container, which was sealed with silicon and enclosed in brick, not to be seen again until October of 2031.

“I was glad to see the project finished,” said the alumni association vice president, Sarah Pride (Literature, ’07), who chaired the time capsule committee’s year-long effort. She explained at the Saturday dedication ceremony that the committee began its task in January with prayer, each member asking God what He wanted for the time capsule. Coming back together, they drafted a purpose statement and kept praying that it would be God’s project, not theirs.

“We had written out an elaborate outline for the time capsule on paper,” Pride explained, “but that’s not what happened. God took us at our word, so nothing happened quite according to our own plans.”

 
Alumni Sarah Pride and Donna Ross prepare to seal the capsule.
The team hoped, in particular, to identify items that would paint a picture of daily life for the first 70 to 80 students, who, in 2000, took a huge step of faith to attend a college that didn’t even yet have dorms. Many of those early PHC pioneers gathered from across the country because of an audacious dream of founder Dr. Michael Farris and a group of faithful supporters to build an academically excellent College that would help equip leaders while strengthening and reinforcing the Christian faith of its students.

In its official mission statement, the committee wrote: “We hope to tell the story of PHC’s first ten years in a way that unifies our community and proclaims to future generations God’s Faithfulness and Mercy.”

The committee labored to ensure participation by different elements of the College community, both past and present. In the end, the capsule included letters to future students from PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris, Home School Legal Defense Association president Michael Smith, and the Chairman of PHC’s Department of Classical Liberal Arts, Dr. Steven Hake, the only professor who has taught at PHC since its inception.
 
Over the past year, committee members scanned hundreds of old photos and uploaded them into a private website for alumni to view and upload more of their own. More than six dozen alumni filled out an online form, included in the capsule, asking them what they are doing now and where they imagine they might be in twenty years.

By the time all the items had been collected, some prepared and chosen the morning of the ceremony, the capsule contained a hefty stack of quality materials.

 
The time capsule lowered into the Patrick Henry College entrance sign.
“In 20 years, alumni and students will be able to draw their own conclusions and write their own version of the story,” said Alumni Association President John Vinci.

“I thought the time capsule was our most fun task this year,” said Donna Ross (Classical Liberal Arts, ’04), the association’s historian. “I enjoyed looking through the old photos.”

In his letter to the future, Dr. Farris observed that, “When we started Patrick Henry College, our goal was not merely to build an educational institution, we wanted to change America…We believed that there was Truth. It was no invention of men. Truth did not arise from our perceptions. Truth was objective, and it was knowable. And, it was embodied in the person of Jesus Christ who said, ‘I am the way, the Truth, and the life.

“…The pursuit of happiness cannot be separated from the pursuit of God,” he continued. “God wants us to walk with Him. He invites us to do so. And He invites us again and again. I hope that all of you know true happiness because you say ‘yes’ daily when God invites you to walk along His side.”