Ah, it’s September and the neighborhoods have quieted down as children everywhere are heading back to school.
In addition to the three “Rs,” students in the Bald Eagle Area School District have the added advantage of meeting a new adult pen pal each year of elementary school.
Bald Eagle Area’s Nexus Pen Pal Program provides a safe way for a child to make a new friend with an adult pen pal. The children have a chance to ask their questions about what life was like before computers and cellphones. The adults get answers to questions like, “what is an emoji?” and, “should I have one?”
It takes about 10 hours between October and May to be a pen pal to a child. Adult pen pals receive six letters in the mail from a child, and send six letters back (using snail mail or email). In May, the adults all gather at the schools (Wingate, Port Matilda, Mountaintop and Howard Elementary schools) to enjoy some music and fellowship with the child to whom they have been writing.
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The meet and greets are amazing. A child you have only imagined presents him or herself and, suddenly, questions that couldn’t be answered in letters get answered face to face. And what do we adults look like to the child — I always wonder, but they always seem happy to see us. There is magic in the air as the pen pals meet. Conversations buzzing all around. Children shy in writing bursting forth in happy chatter. Children eloquent on paper, proving shy in person. The best part is witnessing the children’s school lives as they eagerly show their pen pals science experiments and poetry notebooks and art work and math tests and computer labs, all they have accomplished and are so proud to share.
If you’re in town in May, be a pen pal. We can mail your letters anywhere as long as you are here for the meet and greet in May. Intrigued? Check out our photos of last year’s events on our Facebook page.
Nexus Pen Pal Program is a partnership between Bald Eagle Area and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program. Adults are gathered, trained and kept informed by the RSVP staff, and so we ask that you would enroll for the program with us. Call at 355-6816 (ask for Brenda), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New pen pals are asked to attend a 1-hour training event, which will be offered at various times on Sept. 22 and 23 at the Willowbank Office in Bellefonte, in the new Emergency Operations Center.
Andrea Puzycki is the project director of RSVP and the Pen Pal Program coordinator.