OSWEGO, NY – “Black Penguins, this is Henry writing,” sounds like code. But, in reality this past summer area children became much more excited about writing due to “Henry” and his secret identity.
Oswego City School District teacher Linda Stummer noted, “Once again this year the Oswego Extended School Year Integration program joined with the summer schedule at Little Lukes.”
What started out as an innocent appearing episode resulted in an exciting summer of writing, mystery and adventure for youngsters.
Stummer explained, “My summer school class, along with the school age students who attend the Little Lukes’ program, had been corresponding with a resident at Bishop Commons throughout the five weeks of this summer program.”
Continuing she said, “This wonderful experience was actually initiated from a resident known to us at ‘Henry’ as he apparently had seen us walking by his garden and admiring a fisherman figurine.”
One day, when the children walked by the garden ornament, there was a letter hanging on the little flagpole in the garden.
Stummer said, “The children, known as the Black Penguins (name of the classroom they were in at Little Lukes’) were so excited and we began to exchange daily letters. ‘Henry’ had written individual letters to each student and some days there would be as many as 15 letters.”
The students would go back to the classroom and Stummer said, “They were so excited about writing back and they would leave their correspondence the next day.”
In fact she explained, “We have conducted this program for several years and never really had a writing activity. Well, every day we would return to the classroom and many of the students would excitedly begin writing back to ‘Henry.’ It was wonderful to see.”
As the summer program wound down “Henry” was invited to an ice cream social with the students.
The secret identity was unveiled as 91-year-old former Fulton School District Superintendent Glenn Clark walked into the room, sat down, shook hands with each and every student as well as providing a few comments along the way.
Joining in the celebration were the adults working with the program including Linda Annorino, Tiffany Conzone, Stephanie Keiffer, Laura Micheli, Judy Oleyourryk and Stummer.
Stummer noted, “This was a wonderful experience. Mr. Clark in his letters would provide advice for the students as well as comments and tell stories. It was a tremendous way to close out the summer program. It is something that many of them will always remember.”