When passing notes in class is en­cour­aged

Hol­ly­wood El­e­men­tary stu­dents prac­tice pen­man­ship and kind­ness

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

Now in its third year, Hol­ly­wood El­e­men­tary stu­dents can prac­tice kind­ness and hand­writ­ing skills by send­ing notes through Heron Mail.

Prin­ci­pal Jen­nifer Gil­man said the in­ter­nal mail sys­tem is one way staff hope to in­spire stu­dents to be kind to one an­other. “We want to bring peo­ple up, not [tear them] down,” she said.

Gil­man said stu­dents and staff can start send­ing notes this school year via Heron Mail some­time this month.

Started two years ago, Hol­ly­wood El­e­men­tary School’s in­ter­nal mail­ing sys­tem al­lows stu­dents to prac­tice their writ­ing skills, fourth-grade teacher Lynne Molina said last week.

“Chil­dren can write let­ters to friends in other grades … and class­rooms across the school,” she said.

Fourth-grader Anna Wil­son, one of the Heron Mail car­ri­ers, said she likes to “talk to some­one in a pri­vate mes­sage.” She said she can prac­tice “good be­hav­ior [and] writ­ing skills.”

An­other Heron Mail car­rier, fourth-grader Tori Per­nell, said she also can “write to par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers.”

Fourth-grader Zachery Braden said he would write to his sis­ter, who “is too lit­tle to be at school.” Molina said to him he would have to de­liver the mail on his own to his sis­ter.

Gil­man said par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers can write to the chil­dren us­ing a form avail­able on the school’s web­site. “If they want to high­light some­thing a child did, they can down­load the form and send it in to the school,” she said.

Us­ing two bins, a hand­ful of Molina’s fourth-graders will pick up notes placed in des­ig­nated mail­boxes around the school. They will also “stamp and bound them” for their des­ig­nated class­rooms, and de­liver ev­ery Fri­day, Molina said.

Teach­ers will make sure to write to each child “so ev­ery­one will get some­thing,” she con­tin­ued.

Molina said school staff are col­lect­ing old sta­tion­ary, such as Valen­tine’s Day and Christ­mas cards, for stu­dents to write their notes on.

Molina said it’s ex­cit­ing for her to watch the fourth-graders “lined up, stamp­ing, plac­ing and bind­ing let­ters” to be dis­trib­uted to class­rooms across the school build­ing. She said chil­dren some­times think “they can’t do some­thing” but when given the chance “they can get a lot done.” She said the process will take the stu­dents about 15 min­utes to do once they fig­ure out a rhythm.

Gil­man said in the last two years there hasn’t been an is­sue with stu­dents writ­ing neg­a­tive notes to other stu­dents us­ing Heron Mail.

“If it did hap­pen, we would han­dle it in­di­vidu- ally,” she said.

Gil­man said “let­ter writ­ing could even­tu­ally be a lost art.” Stu­dents learn how to write a let­ter in the first grade and most can write one on their own by the sec­ond grade, she said.

Al­low­ing stu­dents to send “snail mail” of­fers them the chance to write re­spect­ful notes and let­ters to their friends and class­mates, Gil­man said. She said the fourth-graders are “start­ing that Hol­ly­wood ser­vice early” by fill­ing the need for Heron Mail car­ri­ers.

Al­low­ing stu­dents to com­mu­ni­cate via Heron Mail is one move the school’s “Kind­ness Com­mit­tee” is tak­ing to en­sure the school is a safe place for stu­dents to learn, Gil­man said.

The com­mit­tee’s “over­ar­ch­ing goal is to be kind to oth­ers,” she said.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI

Hol­ly­wood El­e­men­tary fourth-grader Kalel Briscoe holds one of the Heron Mail totes he and class­mate Zachary Braden will use to de­liver stu­dent and staff notes across the school build­ing.

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