During this time of social distancing and isolation, it is more important than ever to find ways to connect with family and friends. Technology – everything from email and texting to Zoom and FaceTime – helps Charles River School students “attend” virtual classes and socialize with friends. To stay connected to their senior citizen pen pals, CRS middle schoolers know that sometimes it takes different tools and techniques – like a pen, paper, and a walk to the mailbox – to keep connections alive.
For the past two years, CRS seventh- and eighth-grade students created Valentine's Day cards for the school’s elderly alumni. Seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher, Leigh Hutchinson, used the opportunity to teach her students the mechanics and art of letter-writing, from construct to how to address and mail the sealed envelope. To her students' surprise, many alumni replied to the middle schoolers, sometimes with a multi-page letter reminiscing about their time at CRS in the 1940s and ‘50s.
When CRS students began remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchinson made every effort to connect her students to the world around them by keeping tabs on the news and encouraging them to maintain a sense of community and to give back during this difficult time. Knowing many of the school’s elderly alumni are in nursing homes without the ability to receive visits from family, she asked her students to write letters again, sharing stories and comparing experiences during this historic time. Letters were mailed just last week in mid-April and the students look forward to hearing back from their alumni pen pals.