It’s sometimes said that letter writing is a lost art. Thanks to their teachers, that’s not the case for a group of students at Garrison Mill Elementary School and their pen pals at Lassiter High School.
Since almost the beginning of the school year, fourth graders in Sandra King’s class have been writing letters to students in Kirstene Lohlein’s high school literature class.
“It started out as just a way to get my kids writing, and it has turned into a really engaging experience for the fourth graders and the high schoolers as well,” King explained. “When the blue folder shows up with the pen pal letters in it, my kids know that it is pen pal letter day, and they are super excited.”
Since almost the beginning of the year, the students have been corresponding via letters. As a result, the Garrison teacher has really seen an improvement in her students’ writing. They even poke fun at the high school students if they are not using the correct letter writing format King quipped.
“It has really taken off,” she added. “Our most reluctant writers are writing on a weekly basis, and they are excited about it. They are writing in more details and giving more examples of what is going on.”
King’s student Henry agrees with his teacher. The letter writing exchange has helped him improve.
“My writing is getting better. My handwriting used to be sloppy, but now it is neater because I have seen how he writes,” Henry said while talking about his high school pen pal.
Like his classmates, Henry writes to his pen pal about a variety of topics. Some talk about the shared teachers. Others talk about jobs, what they wanted to be when they grow up, the weather, and just life.
Many of the Garrison students are eager to know what high school is like. Henry was shocked by one thing his pen pal revealed about high school.
“They don’t have recess. I thought they had a long recess. Their work is so hard, and you have to use your mind and so I thought they would get breaks,” said Henry, who still seemed in disbelief and maybe a little disappointed about the revelation.
The Garrison students are not the only ones benefiting from the pen pal letters. Lassiter student Kennadi is King’s daughter and is responsible for delivering the artful letters.
“My class begs me for the letters every day,” Kennadi revealed. “They ask me where they are. They really love it!”
Just as the elementary students’ letters started out short, the Lassiter students had to warm up to the idea of writing letters.
“I know in the beginning it was shorter letters, but now I see some people with front and back pages,” Kennadi added.
Kennadi understands why the Garrison students enjoy writing letters. She remembers when she was their age and looked up to the high school students. She thought they were cool. However, she thinks the exercise is great for her high school classmates too.
Through their months of getting to know each other via their letters, the fourth graders pleaded with their teacher to be able to meet their pen pals in person.
“They have even said in their letters, ‘I hope to meet you one day,’” their teacher recounted.
To their disappointment, King told the students they may never get to meet their pen pals, but then the fourth graders got an early Valentine’s Day surprise when the class of high school students walked through their door. The fourth graders, who had been working on their next letter, leaped from their seats to hug their friends.
The group of elementary and high school students picked up where their letters had left off—catching up with friends.