Photo by Jess Charlton
Civic Memorial High School graduate Mackenzie Maberry reads a letter she has never seen from her deceased kindergarten teacher, Penny Stivers. The letter is part of a time capsule Mackenzie’s kindergarten class made for each student. The treasures were hidden, seal unbroken, at the foot of Mackenzie’s bed for the last 12 years.
BETHALTO — Mackenzie Maberry, 18, is about to open memories many of us left behind years ago.
Mackenzie, a recent Civic Memorial High School graduate, created a time capsule during her kindergarten year at Bethalto East. For 12 years, it lay safely in a cedar chest at the end of her bed, forbidden until her 2014 high school graduation.
“My mom even put tape on top with a note that said ‘Do not open until 2014,’ so I didn’t touch it,” she said.
“We have not opened it at all,” her mother, Kristin Maberry, said. “I guess we are about to find out what’s in there.
“I wanted it to be a surprise, anyway. I think it just makes it that much more special. It has so much more meaning now.”
Over the years, the temptation to revisit the treasures in the capsule was in the back of Mackenzie’s mind.
At her graduation party, Mackenzie finally breaks the seal and begins pulling out each item; memories of her childhood she had long since forgotten.
“I had no clue what could have been in there,” she says. “Like this picture Courtney drew of us together. Courtney and I have been friends since we were 3 years old.”
The capsule also includes a picture of Mackenzie with her older sister, Morgan (who graduated two years prior and opened her own time capsule when she graduated), a picture of the Twin Towers, a short story she wrote, a screenshot of the City Museum, a book of memories from her kindergarten year, and a Shrinky Dink of Tommy and Phil from the Nickelodeon 1990s show “The Rugrats.”
The most prized possession, however, is a letter from her teacher, Penny Stivers.
“I knew Mrs. Stivers had written me a letter; I just had no idea what she wrote or what she would say,” Mackenzie says. “Mrs. Stivers was just a blessing, really she was.”
Although this is an exciting moment in her life, Mackenzie says she cannot help but feel like a piece of her is missing.
Penny Stivers lost a battle with breast cancer five years ago.
“She was an outstanding lady,” Kristin Maberry says. “When I heard of her passing, it brought back the memories I had of her. You kind of forget certain things, you know.”
With the mystery at the foot of her bed opened and explored, Mackenzie says she is happy her class did a time capsule at a young age.
“I think it means so much more now,” she says. “You don’t realize the things you may forget until something — a memory — brings it back.” I forgot about a lot of the things I put in there. It seems like it was yesterday.
After revisiting the past, Mackenzie is focused on the future. In the fall, she will be attending Truman State University in Missouri, studying pre-med biology.
“I may even go to medical school afterward,” she says. She also will carry everything she learned from the teacher who continues to give so much.
“She used to tell us, once a Stivers kid, always a Stivers kid,” she says.