Project connects generations

Published 4:01 pm Friday, August 30, 2013

While most pen pal projects aim for distant recipients, one Fort Dale Academy fifth grader has enlisted the aid of his fellow classmates to help bridge the generational gap right here in the Camellia City.

Samuel Sherling, a student in Denise Norrell’s class, began the school year with a modest proposal for his teacher and classmates.

Sherling’s plan, called Project Pen Pal, involves writing senior citizens in nursing homes throughout Butler County once a month for the duration of the school year.

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Subsequent letters will follow with more questions about the senior citizens’ interests, talents, and life. As the correspondence continues, the students will reply in kind with the same information.

At the end of the school year, the fifth grade class will cap off the project with a friendship party and meet their pen pals.

“My mom just helped me come up with it,” Sherling said. “We thought it would just make people in nursing homes feel better if they knew that somebody cared about them.”

Norrell, who is only playing a supervising role in Project Pen Pal, said that she hasn’t seen very many ideas in her 27 years of teaching as impressive as this one.

She added that the project gives kids not only a glimpse into the lives of those that came before them, but also the chance to exercise a rather antiquated art.

“I can’t convey how important I think it is, mainly because of writing skills (the students develop),” Norrell said. “Also it connects them with people that have had a lot of experiences in life.”