Second-graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Westfield learned how to use the conventional letter format in their classrooms by following a long tradition of writing to the High School football team and cheerleaders. The 79 second graders each wrote a letter to a Westfield High School football player or cheerleader telling a little bit about themselves and what sports they enjoy. They asked them relevant questions about being a high school athlete and wished them luck in the remainder of their season.
“Part of the new Language Arts curriculum includes understanding that letters are written for a variety of purposes and that our audience and purpose helps us make decisions about the content and tone of our writing,” explained teacher Lauren Saretsky. The letter to the high schoolers is in addition to weekly letters Jefferson second graders write to their parents.
"I was really happy about writing the letter because I thought it was so cool for a second grader to be writing to someone in high school and I felt special,” stated Jefferson student Erin Doherty.
With the help of Jefferson’s Physical Education teacher Bill Mellott, who also coaches football at the High School, the letters were delivered and an assembly was coordinated following the letter writing project.
Mellott told the second graders how student athletes are students first and how they need to do well in school to be a part of the team. The captains of the football and cheerleading teams spoke at the assembly and answered questions that the second graders had prepared.
"When I was talking to the football players I was excited and happy," said second grader Dawson Milligan.
"The cheerleaders and football players made an especially wonderful effort this year in responding to the letters from their "youngest fans," stated Jefferson teacher Lauren Christie. “Each child who wrote to a football player or cheerleader received a personal letter in return. This was so exciting for our students. As teachers, we are trying to build enthusiasm for writing and the high school students really helped us do just that."