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Crayons and construction paper meets cursive and stationary

Mike Kofford / Kalispell School District 5

Teachers of a second grade class in Kalispell found a fairly old-school way to get kids excited about writing.

Pen pals.

Shelly Kennedy and Suzanne Elliott’s class at Edgerton Elementary School started exchanging letters with residents at the Buffalo Hill Terrace retirement home at the beginning of the school year.

“Pretty much they’ve gotten a letter every month. So, a lot of the letters that our kids are writing are asking their pen pals questions: what do you like, what’s your favorite, you know, how many kids do you have, are you married… and then they save the letters from their pen pals to make sure that they can answer the questions that their pen pals ask them in return,” Elliott said.

Dev Haegele works as the Recreation Therapist with Buffalo Terrace and is coordinating the pen pal project with the school.

“That is our number one goal; to reach out to the community to say, ‘we’re here, we’re an active, lively group of seniors, come and visit with us, we still have a lot of contributions to give to this society, and if building that relationship with students starts young, then hopefully, over time we can change the society view and realize that there’s so much importance in making that connection with seniors,” Dev said.

She said several years ago they had a pen pal program, and have other programs with Edgerton including square dancing, and interaction between the students and residents through games like cribbage and checkers.

The teachers intend to keep up the pen pal project through the school year, and start again fresh next year.

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