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HHS student’s Pen Pals project delights both old and young alike

Monday, November 6, 2017

HHS student’s Pen Pals project delights both old and young alike
What a welcome treat to receive the mail, and instead of bills, someone has sent you a hand written letter.  The joy of letter writing is alive and well at Holdrege Memorial Homes, thanks to the  ingenuity of Sydney Reed.  "I have always loved writing letters, and have a knack for it from writing notes to friends and family, " said the junior at Holdrege High School. "I'm involved in the YELP (Youth engaged in Leading Phelps) program at school, and needed to create a project that directly helps the community.  I know that older people love letter writing, so I decided to create pen pals by pairing residents from Holdrege Memorial Homes with 4th grade students.  I chose fourth graders because they are really working on writing skills, " Sydney explained.  Sydney recruited 17 students, including herself, and, with the assistance of HMH activity director Amy Rademaker, she was able to find 17 residents.  She then created a five question survey regarding their interests, and sent that to each person.  For the residents, the questions began, "When you were young" and for the students, the questions began with "Are you interested in."   She then matched the pen pals base on common interests.  The goal is for each pair to exchange one letter per month for the duration of the school year.  The students wrote first, and the residents have now responded.  "My goals with this project are to sho the fourth graders the sweet spirits and caring nature of older people, and to form new friendships that cross the age gap." she explained.  For now, everyone only has the first names of their pen pals with possible plans for a reveal party in the spring.  Miss Reed chose Holdrege Memorial Homes in part because her grandmother is a resident.  "I have the letters all delivered to my Grandma's room before they are dispersed, so I get the  extra bonus of spending time with her." she said.  In addition to the pen pal project, Miss Reed is a very active high school student.  She is involved in volleyball, track, FFA and Circle of Friends that offers socialization and support for students in the school that have disabilities.  She is the daughter of Doug and Jill Reed, and has an older sister Katie and younger brother Hudson.  Main Photo: Sydney Reed composes a letter to her pen pal.   2nd Photo: HMH resident Verlene Freeland reads the first letter from her special fourth grader.  3rd Photo:  Grady Ganser and Caleb DeWald show off their first letter from a special friend.

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