When passing notes in class is encouraged
Hollywood Elementary students practice penmanship and kindness
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.
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.