PORTLAND – Twelve-year-old Sigrid Harmon may have been born too late. She confesses that she prefers the 1980s — with its cassette tape Walkmans, leg warmers and neon colors — to our current times.

“My mom and dad were from the ’80s,” said the King Middle School student. “I know a lot about the ’80s.”

Sigrid and her classmates will soon take a deeper dive into that decade, thanks to a® time capsule they dug up Friday in Baxter Woods.

They learned about the time capsule after the chance discovery last year of a manila envelope addressed to a sixth-grade class of 2011 A.D. The packet, found in a file cabinet, was prepared 30 years ago by the King sixth-graders who put together the time capsule.

The packet included a pencil map of the time capsule’s location and an inventory of the items placed inside by members of the Project Exploration group.

The packet prompted a study of the decades of the 20th century, said Caitlin LeClair, the students’ social studies teacher.

Students — now seventh-graders — who were interested in taking Friday’s excursion to Baxter Woods entered a lottery for eight spots. While their peers were having lunch and in class, the lottery winners went into the nature preserve with shovels. Joining them was Tracey Deniso of Scarborough, who contributed a yearbook, a Rubik’s Cube and a “family life” pamphlet to the capsule 30 years ago.

Machar Nguany, 12, paced off distances on the map in his Nikes. From the starting point by the Percival Street parking area, the map directed the group to go forward 90 feet before making a 90-degree turn to the left and continuing for another 25 feet.

The map included trees as landmarks, but it wasn’t so easy to see the landscape as it must have been three decades ago.

With hints from Scott Ballard and Jerry Goss of the city’s Public Services Department, the students hit a hard surface with their shovels. (Others from Public Services had scoped out the area in advance with metal detectors, and left a small orange paint mark on a nearby tree.)

Goss and Ballard took over the digging and exposed a dented metal trash can wrapped in a deteriorating trash bag that dripped water. Goss cut away at the duct tape between the lid and the can and revealed muddy sealable plastic bags, some holding water. The items prompted exclamations of “Ew!” and “Gross!” from the students.

“No matter what’s inside, it’s still pretty cool,” LeClair said. “We found something from 30 years ago!”

Sigrid and Phoebe Scott, also 12, sang the theme song from “Fame” as a few items were pulled out of the can. Phoebe explained that she had seen bits of the 1980 film, but was familiar with the song primarily through the Wii game Just Dance.

The students didn’t yet know it, but the capsule held a slang dictionary, an HBO guide, an Atari catalog and “Empire Strikes Back” trading cards.

An inventory from the file cabinet packet indicated there were collages, news articles about religious cults and the space shuttle among the items.

The can and its contents were too messy to deal with on site. LeClair said the items, in their current state, would be shown to the rest of the school Monday and students would dry them afterward.

The students deposited their own time capsule — a letter and items in a plastic bag placed in a hard plastic supply chest — into the spot they had unearthed. They kicked dirt over it before heading back to school, accompanied by a city pickup truck with their find in the bed.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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