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Colony Oak goes back to days of MC Hammer
Current Colony Oak Principal Cheryl Griffiths, left, Skypes the schools first principal Robert Prewitt, center, as he carries the time capsule that he dug up. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Colony Oak Elementary School was opened in time for the 1990-91 school year.
Back then, Ripon had a population of about 8,200, recording artists MC Hammer and Michael Bolton topped the record charts, actor Will Smith was the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Seinfeld was this ground-breaking sitcom about nothing.
Stephanie Pratt was the second grade teacher during the first year of Colony Oak.
She was back at the Ripon Unified campus Thursday along with then-Principal Bob Prewitt and former Superintendent Joe O’Leary for the unearthing of the time capsule.
“I remember when we buried (the time capsule) but I don’t remember what was in it,” she said.
The contents inside the time capsule from 25 years ago included a copy of the defunct Ripon Record newspaper dated May 22, 1991 containing her wedding announcement to Gregory Pratt – she was the former Stephanie Laird.
The time capsule also included an otherwise molded VHS tape of the events back then – fortunately, the school has a backup copy available – along with Polaroid photos, a year book, class photographs, and school work from students during that inaugural year.
Cheryl Griffiths, who is in her first-year as principal of the school, noted that the contents will be placed on display at the school library.
“I’ll have to come back and really take a look of the contents,” said Prewitt, who was the Colony Oak principal from 1990 through 1993. Prior to that, he held the same title at Ripona Elementary School.
All told, he was with Ripon Unified for 18 years.
Prewitt, who still lives in Ripon, just started a new career as a volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society. Earlier, he drove a patient in Stockton to the nearby diagnostic center. His daughter Bonnie also taught at Colony Oak.
The school is about to undergo a major overhaul thanks to voter-approved Measure G funds.
Colony Oak will be converted over to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math campus. “We just acquired three more acres (to help expand) the campus,” announced Superintendent Siegrid “Ziggy” Robeson, who was last year’s principal at the kindergarten-through-eighth grade school.
Work will soon begin to replace the original locatable structures dated back to O’Leary’s days to state-of-the-art permanent structures.
“I remembered when we first bought the property for the school,” said O’Leary.
As construction is set to being next year, Griffiths indicated that students will continue to attend the school during the construction stages.
Once the work is completed, she’s hoping to have another time capsule in place to mark the opening of the new Colony Oak.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail