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Students, seniors connect; Third-graders learn the art of letter writing.

Byline: Sandy Meindersma

HOLDEN - Letter writing is a bit of a dying art form, but the third-graders at Mayo Elementary School will be reviving it all year long as they participate in a pen-pal program with the Holden Senior Center.

The program matches students with participants selected by the senior center, and began last week as the students and their senior pen pals held a get-to-know-you session in the school cafeteria.

To facilitate the conversation, the pairs answered a series of questions; those answers can be the foundation of their letters during the year.

"We both liked ice cream," Maeghan Grady said. "My pen pal told me that she never gets to see her granddaughter, and that I'm just like her."

Tyler Moran said his pen pal told him she has eight grandchildren, and that all of her brothers and sisters have five children.

"I know her pen pal from last year," he said. "We write about what we like to do and where we like to go."

Jane Curran said she was really excited about the program because she is reading a book about a girl with a pen pal in Afghanistan.

The students and their pen pals exchange letters once a month, and all letters are mailed to and from the senior center.

"Sometimes the seniors will send little gifts like stickers or a birthday card," teacher Bonnie Ross said. "One year my parents did it, and they sent shells from Florida."

Mrs. Ross and the other third-grade teachers, Linda Holbrook and Kate White, coordinate the program, which got its start in 1984 at Chaffins School.

Retired teacher Cathy Harrington, who now works at the school as an aide, said the children love hearing about the seniors' experiences from when they were the children's age.

"That's the most fun - the making connections," Mrs. Harrington said. "The kids are beside themselves when the letters come - it's like mail call in the Army."

The program will end in June, when the pen pals come back to the school for a closing program.

"At the finale, they just can't wait to see each other," Mrs. Harrington said. "They've really bonded."

ART: PHOTO

PHOTOG: SUBMITTED PHOTO

CUTLINE: Mayo Elementary School third-grader Zoe Coleman right, will exchange letters with Mrs. Pearson as part of a pen-pal project.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 7, 2010
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