Washington School Fifth-Graders Write Letters to Their Future Selves

Washington 5th grade teacher Matthew Cognetti explains a letter writing project to his class. “It’s a letter to you, from you, only to be read by you,” Cognetti says. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
Washington School 5th grader Jake Stinton writes a letter to himself which will be mailed to him by his teacher, Matthew Cognetti, when Stinton graduates from high school. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
5th graders in Matthew Cognetti’s class at Washington write letters to themselves which Cognetti will set aside & mail to each of them at end of 12th grade, a tradition Cognetti began 16 years ago. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
An envelope containing letters from students in Matthew Cognetti’s class 7 years ago stands ready for mailing to his former students who graduated from high school this year. Credits: Westfield Public Schools

WESTFIELD, NJ - At the end of the school year, fifth-graders in Matthew Cognetti’s class at Washington School in Westfield wrote letters to themselves. While the class discussed prewriting tips and how to structure the letter, this assignment differed from previous writing exercises.

Every year since he began teaching 16 years ago, Cognetti collects the letters and sets them aside without reading them. Seven years later, the fifth-grade teacher mails each letter to each former student as he or she approaches the end of 12th grade.

“It’s a letter to you, from you, only to be read by you,” Cognetti instructs his current pupils.  “The more you write, the more you’ll thank your past self in the future.”

Sign Up for E-News

Cognetti keeps track of each class by putting the letters in a large envelope and marking it with the year the class will graduate high school.  For example, this year’s letters were marked “Send in 2025.”

“Each year, I pull an envelope out, add a letter from myself and usually a picture, and send them out,” he explains. “My seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Ball (who is now the district’s Human Resources Specialist), had us write letters to ourselves when I was in her class.  I still remember receiving mine the week I graduated high school.  I thought it was such a neat tradition I decided to start it with my class.”

Cognetti says he hears from a few parents and students each year, including one 22-year old who recently re-read his 5th grade “letter to self” and emailed his former teacher to express “tons of laughs, interesting thoughts and amazement about how much has changed since fifth grade.”

“Little did I know back then that I would not become a professional baseball player for the New York Yankees nor would movie tickets continue to be $6,” the student writes in an email to Cognetti before detailing his “awesome experience” at Virginia Tech and his exciting “new chapter” in commercial real estate in New York.

“I think [the letter writing assignment] gets current students to reminisce about the fun times they have had here at Washington,” says Cognetti.  “It also gets them to think about the future and where they want to be in seven years.  Every former student who has talked to me has said that their letter was hilarious.  They laugh at the predictions they made and what they said.  Some predictions, such as the college they would be attending, apparently came true.  Others, such as playing for the Yankees, unfortunately have not.”

Cognetti says he encourages students to write whatever they want and as much as they want and, because it is a personal letter, he does not read what is written.

“Helping my current students remember all the fun activities from the past 5 years and then seeing the names of my former students on the envelopes as I send them out is something I enjoy each and every year,” he says.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Westfield Firefighters Give Assist at Overnight House Fire in Garwood

July 12, 2018

GARWOOD, NJ - The Westfield and Clark fire departments were on hand to assist at a house fire early Thursday morning in Garwood.  The fire was in the upper levels of a vacant home on Willow Avenue, according to officials.

Clark Fire Chief Frank Cerasa confirmed that five Clark firefighters took one engine to the site. One witness reported seeing emergency responders from ...

Change The Early Morning Timing on Central Ave. Traffic Light

July 12, 2018

In connection with asking Union County to review the signal timing, PLEASE also consider the timing early in the morning. I frequently am heading south on Central to Metropark Station to catch the 6 a.m. train. Whenever I am at the intersection prior to 5:30 a.m., the timing is such that a green light (going south) lasts for less than the amount of time it takes to get one car through the ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, July 17, 6:00 PM

Westfield Presbyterian Church, Westfield

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Education Health & Wellness


Wed, July 18

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Westfield Area YMCA Wellness Wednesdays

Health & Wellness


Thu, July 19, 7:30 PM

Mindowaskin Park, Westfield

Free Swing Band Concert in Mindowaskin Park

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Car Scratchings, Car Burglaries Continue & More

July 11, 2018

July 2, 2018 11:37 p.m.

Chad Doriral, age 32, of Brooklyn, NY was arrested for possession of CDS pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on summons.

July 3, 2018 11:08 p.m.

Divine Kennedy, age 19, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $1,000.00. Further investigation ...

Westfield Memorial Library Presents Keepsake Box Craft for Adults and Talk on NY Skyscrapers

July 17, 2018

The Westfield Memorial Library is excited to offer a craft for adults on Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. and a program on the Skyscrapers of New York at 7 p.m. The library is located at 550 East Broad St.

The craft is the creation of a keepsake box, presented by librarian Marsha Bryant. The library will provide a tin box and other decorating supplies for each participant. Using paint, ...

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Understand NJ's Shared Responsibility Act

Last year, the President signed legislation that repealed the “penalty tax” for not having health insurance for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019.


On May 31, Governor Murphy signed into law the “New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act,” which establishes a “shared responsibility tax” for state residents without ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...

26 Homes Sold July 8-15 in Westfield and Surrounding Towns

There were 26 homes sold between July 8 and July 15 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside`

TOWN          ADDRESS    STYLE            RMS   BRS BTH   GAR   Sale Price

Cranford  115  Bryant Ave ...

Dog Found in Garwood

UPDATE: Reunited with owner.

ORIGINAL POST: Dog found on Pine Avenue in Garwood. He was given food and water. Garwood police now has him. Sweet and friendly. Contact the Garwood Police Department.

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You


Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

What Is Your Bottom Line?

This week's Parshah (Torah reading) is the Parshah of Pinchas the Zealot: the courageous young priest who stood up against idolatry and immorality and, in the end, saved Israel from a devastating plague.

While Pinchas' radical response made him a hero worthy of having a Torah section named after him, we wouldn't necessarily suggest to our children ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

ELL Summer Experience at Westfield Public Schools

Westfield students representing six different languages recently enjoyed a weeklong summer camp focused on providing meaningful enrichment activities for students to continue their English language acquisition while having fun.

The ELL (English Language Learners) Summer Experience ran from July 9-13 at Wilson School, welcoming students in grades 1-4 whose native languages are Russian, ...

Westfield Area YMCA: Take Swim Lessions This Summer

The Westfield Area YMCA is providing a free one-week guest pass to non-members which will also enable access to purchase a week of swim lessons at full member rates during the summer.  The one-week guest pass includes use of the Y’s fitness facilities, land and water group exercise classes and open gym/swim.

“Our goal is to have people of all ages and skill levels grow to ...

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper Welcomes Stephen A. Timoni to Firm

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper P.C., announced that Stephen A. Timoni has joined the firm in its Westfield office. Stephen will focus his practice in the areas of Corporate and Health Care Law.

“Stephen brings additional depth and experience to our firm. He has tremendous experience in complex corporate, M&A and health care areas of practice. We anticipate that Stephen ...

Woman Struck by Car in Bridgewater Mall Parking Lot Dies

July 12, 2018

Bridgewater, NJ - A Bedminster woman has died from her injuries after she was struck by a car in the parking lot of the Bridgewater Commons Mall Monday.

Marion Kelley, 62, was struck by a vehicle while walking in lot four near the Macy's merchandise pick up area at around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

The 2017 Mazda was driven by Chinmayi Parikh, 33, of Piscataway.

The crash is still being ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more