National Honor Society students from Andress High and fourth-grade students from Tom Lea Elementary met for the first time today after four months of being each other’s pen pals.
The pen pal partnership was started as a project to fulfill National Honor Society (NHS) requirements, but it has become much more than a project for both the high school and elementary students.
“We thought this would be a nice way to bridge the gap between Andress and a feeder school. With so many choices in schools this offers the students a glimpse of what our school is all about,” NHS advisor Marlana Hohnholt said.
Andress students lined up side by side at Sandstone Ranch Park near the elementary to wait for their pen pals, holding up signs bearing each of their names.
Senior Xavier Haynes couldn’t wait to meet his pen pal Leo, with whom he shares the love of reading and the color yellow.
“This is good. I like being a role model, and he can look up to me,” Haynes said. “It has been really interesting finding out about each other. This is going to help out with college applications, but the best part about this is giving back to the kids.”
When the fourth graders arrived, Hohnholt led them in a fun cheer to help break the ice before they all paired up to do a fun activity.
Lowe’s donated 100 Build and Grow kits, so the students were able to assemble a wooden race car together.
Tom Lea Elementary School teacher Crystal Johnston was happy to see the partnership come to fruition, especially after all the excitement she saw in her classroom every time they received mail from the Andress students.
“This was an excellent opportunity for the children to collaborate within our feeder pattern. It is great for them to see the qualities of these future leaders in our high school campuses,” Johnston said. “They were absolutely thrilled when they would receive their letters, and they put forth a lot of effort in their own letters to impress their mentors.”
The letters not only helped unite these two schools, but also help the students focus on their writing skills.
“This was great for my students because it is a very fun approach to writing,” Johnston said.
These were not your standard letters either. The students shared fun messages by creating magic books, fortunetellers and even picture puzzles.
Fourth grader Kaelynn Guerrero especially liked the magic book, which she created for her pen pal Kaitlyn Null.
“Writing the letters we got to do a lot of projects. My favorite was the magic book because it was something different,” Kaelynn said. “I was really excited when they picked our class because I love writing, and I knew this would be really fun.”
The girls not only share names that start with K, but also their deep love of animals.
“I have four dogs. Their names are Winnie, Chewy, Penelope and Zooey,” Kaelynn said. “She has two dogs named Nemo and Emma.”
After making their race cars, the students enjoyed some downtime at the park, playing ball and throwing flying discs.
Despite the age difference between the fourth graders and the high school students, everyone connected in one way or another.
Andress senior Alyssa Maynes and her pen pal Madison like sports and flowers. Although she has younger siblings, she feels like this experience will help with her future plans to become a social worker.
“I like little kids. This is a great way to relate to them,” Maynes said. “It feels great to connect with someone and be able to help them.”