"It's important for students to get the historical background of the community and the high school," said teacher Lynne Freeland, sponsor of the student council.
Students who attended the school in 1910 selected a teachers' manual, a train schedule, and newspapers that reported an increase in school taxes and previewed an upcoming commencement address at Bryn Mawr College by President William Howard Taft. The president's daughter Helen was a student at the school and later became a professor and dean at the college.
In 1910, Lower Merion was a landscape of estates that served as summer homes for the wealthy, said Ted Goldsborough, president of the Lower Merion Historical Society.
Students moved to a new $100,000 building at the current site on Montgomery Avenue. They had previously attended class in an elementary school on Ardmore Avenue. The new school's senior class had 28 students.
They were among those who placed items representing their school and community in a copper box that was placed inside the 1910 foundation stone and buried.
Goldsborough examined the contents Friday and found papers blackened by mold dust, with holes that looked as if insects had eaten them.
Goldsborough also found a surprise. Items dating from the early 1960s were also in the box. In 1965, a new building opened, replacing the 1910 structure. The students unearthed the copper box from the 1910 stone and selected their own items to add to the historical contents.
They included coins, an 8mm movie on special events at the school, and an edition of Life magazine published on Nov. 29, 1963, chronicling the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The students added their items to the box and put them back in the 1910 cornerstone.
"It wasn't until we turned [the box] over to Ted and he opened it up and we found things from the 1960s that we went back in the archives and realized there had been another ceremony in 1965," said Douglas Young, a representative for the district.
The current student body plans to continue the tradition and has selected a series of more than 30 items for their counterparts from the future to uncover decades from now.
The students have chosen items including programs from school shows, championship memorabilia from recent basketball and soccer championship seasons, a "Beat Radnor" T-shirt, and a DVD on the robotics team.
The items will placed in the 2010 stone, which is set to be installed - with the earlier stones - later this year. School officials are investigating how to best preserve the older items already damaged by nature.
In the meantime, the 2010 items will be on display with those from 1910 and 1965.
Contact staff writer Kristin E. Holmes at 610-313-8211 or email@example.com.