Each student starts their school year in pretty much the same way – introducing themselves to their classmates and making new friends.
The same is true for the second grade students in Terry Merritt’s class at Lanigan Elementary School and Rauri Downes’ class at Volney Elementary School, but with a slight twist.
A cooperative pen pal project coordinated by the two teachers gives each student an opportunity to also make a long-distance friendship with a fellow second grader a few miles down the road.
Through the pen pal project the students write two letters a month all school year long, corresponding with one another about their school, their classes, their interests, their hobbies and much more.
The teachers culminate the pen pal project with a picnic celebration at the end of the school year.
This year’s picnic took place at Lanigan Elementary School and gave the pen pals an opportunity to meet one another face-to-face for the very first time.
Ms. Merritt kicked off the picnic celebration by reading the ‘pals’ the book Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch and then new ‘pals’ played games, enjoyed a pizza lunch and presented one another with a keepsake memento.
The Pen Pal Project between Ms. Merritt and Mr. Downes is a more than 10-year tradition that serves to encourage students’ writing and social skills as well as reading comprehension skills.