Posted: May 14, 2019
When second-grade student Salt walked into the Holly Creek Life Plan Community, the first thing he did was look for his pen pal Karen Ramsey. He’d never met her before, but Salt knew quite a bit about Karen and her life. Salt and 31 of his fellow second-grade classmates from Cherry Hills Elementary School in Highlands Ranch were visiting Holly Creek to meet their pen pals for the first time.
2019 marks the seventh year Cherry Hills students have been corresponding with residents at Centennial-based Holly Creek. Students and seniors are separated by age but united by the simple act of writing letters— four rounds of letters, to be exact — that provided insight into a person they only knew by written word through paper, pen and pencil.
“Parents initiated the pen pals program because it gives our children the opportunity to interact with people from another generation and teaches them the lost art of letter writing,” said second-grade parent Angela Sisk. According to Sisk, every grade at the school takes on an outreach program. All second-grade students have a pen pal at Holly Creek, and next year as third-graders, the students will visit patients at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
After singing songs including “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and the Mary Poppins classic, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the pen pals sat down with each other for the first time.
After meeting his pen pal Karen Ramsey, Salt exclaimed, “I thought your hair was brown!” Karen got a chuckle from her pen pal’s comment and shared some of the things she learned about her new friend. “Through our correspondence, I found out Salt has three siblings and loves to play soccer.”
She then asked her pen pal how he got his unique name and Salt replied, “My parents named me either after a Bible name or a commercial, I’m not sure which.”
Another pair of pen pals, resident Bob Stong and Grant, discovered a connection through pets. “I found out that Grant has five fish and two rabbits. When I was younger, I raised a baby raccoon for a year before releasing it into the wild,” recalled Bob.
When asked what they are doing over the summer, Salt said he was playing soccer and Karen replied she was traveling to Belgium to celebrate her birthday with her daughter, who lives in the Netherlands. Grant will be spending time with his grandparents, who are moving from Hawaii to Colorado, and Stong will be working at Holly Creek’s onsite radio station, HCRK, as station manager. “I need to oversee the station to ensure the programs ‘Big Band Friday’ and ‘Broadway Musical Mondays’ continue to give residents listening enjoyment.”
Enjoyment was clearly shared by all pen pals at their meeting near the end of this school year. And judging from the program’s success over the last seven years, there will be many more years of enjoying new friendships, thanks to the exchange of pen pal letters.
This story first appeared on Denver Post’s YourHub and is used by permission.