Written By Travis Roemhild AHWATUKEE FOOTHILLS NEWS, Monday, November 14, 2011

With the way technology has evolved hand-written letters have, for the most part, been replaced by electronic means.
Two Ahwatukee Foothills schools made it a point to rekindle the personal nature of writing letters by hand.
Although it is part of the state-mandated curriculum to teach letter writing, teachers from Summit School and Kyrene del Milenio Elementary School wanted to take it a step further. Since September, 72 second-grade students, 36 from each school, have been corresponding by mail.

“I have seen just how excited they have been to receive regular mail from their pen pals,” second-grade teacher Molly Danforth said. “They are writing friendly letters to each other. In the past we wrote to other people within the school to teach the curriculum, but this year we took it to a whole different level and the kids were really excited about it.”
The idea was born from Summit School’s Dawn Anderson.

“Growing up, I had a pen pal in Sydney and I always wanted to meet her,” Anderson said. “Just that feeling of writing to someone you don’t see was a driving force. We talked with the vice principal at Milenio about the possibility of doing pen pals and she was totally for it. So we brought together our class lists and matched the students up together.”
On Thursday, after two months of writing each other, the pen pals got to meet each other. The Summit students walked to Milenio in the morning to spend the day with their pen pals.

“I was like, ‘It might not be so fun,’ when I first heard about it,” Milenio second-grader student Ryan Collins said. “But it was great. We have a lot in common.” The teachers also took the opportunity to teach the students about something else. “Beforehand, we talked to them about what it meant to be a good host,” Danforth said. “It was our jobs to be a polite and courteous guest or host.”

While the hand-written letter may never regain the significance it once had, the two teachers believe their students got a glimpse of what it was like before technology, and appreciated it.
“They thought it was neat to know their letters were leaving the school,” Collins said. “It was not someone they were going to see on a regular basis and that motivated them to write a good letter.”

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