DIXON, Ill. — It’s a bit difficult to unlock a time capsule that has been missing for 20 years.

Diane Stiens, a member of Dixon High School’s Class of 1976, went on the hunt for the time capsule filled by her fellow students 40 years ago, but the search proved to be a bit of a challenge.

It originally was placed in a wall on the fourth floor of the high school but was moved and lost during renovations.

Stiens contacted the school, contacted other ’76 graduates, and contacted a janitor who had worked at the school for 30 years, all to no avail.

“There were no records to where it went, and no one knew about it,” she said.

It finally was spotted when her grandchildren were taking a tour of the Northwest Territory Historic Center – in a display on the second floor.

The big reveal of the time capsule occurred last weekend, during the class’s 40th high school reunion at the Post House Ballroom.

“It finally came home to us,” she said. “It was an exciting moment for me, and for all of us.”

By staying determined to find the hefty box, crafted by a DHS wood shop class, Stiens was able to deliver something most valuable to the reunion: memories and stories between friends who might not have seen each other for decades.

It also stirred community pride: The box held several Ronald Reagan items, from an election pin and posters about his visit to the school that year to an original audio reel of a radio interview with the not-yet-president.

The box also contained a 40-year-old secret in the form of a teenage prank.

A classmate sneaked in an empty Falstaff beer can into the box before it was placed inside of the wall. When plucked from the box, Stiens joked that it represented a bonfire where the teens had been busted that year.

“I just started laughing,” she said. “The beer can really made the day.”

Source: The Dixon Telegraph, http://bit.ly/2c1XTWB

Information from: Dixon Telegraph, http://www.saukvalley.com

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by The (Dixon) Telegraph.