LASALLE, Colo. (AP) — The Valley Re-1 School District is focused on technology but students at Pete Mirich Elementary in LaSalle continue to do one thing the old fashioned way: letter writing.
There are no emails or text messages being circulated between friends and teachers here. Instead, 10 kindergartners through fifth-graders are being paid in brownies and donuts to collect, sort, stamp and circulate inter-school mail for "Wee Deliver," the Greeley Tribune reported (http://tinyurl.com/profzcp).
"I think it's kind of fun because it's kind of boring being outside in the morning when nobody is here," said 10-year-old Isaak Stone as to why he signed up to work in the school post office before school instead of waiting outside for it to start.
The idea was hatched 13 years ago by the LaSalle post office and teacher Denise Blevins as a way to keep kids involved with their classmates and teachers and to get them interested in a career in the U.S. Postal Service, said program sponsor Shelly Hoff.
"It's a great opportunity for our teachers to help kids increase their writing skills by teaching them how to write a letter," Hoff said. "They write letters kids to kids, teachers to teachers, kids to teachers and teachers to kids. Everyone gets so excited when they get a letter."
It takes a lot of commitment on the part of the students who work in the post office — otherwise known as Hoff's classroom, which is why they have to apply for a job.
"They have to fill out an application with their name, grade and age and tell me why they want to work here," Hoff said. "And they have to give me a letter of reference from their teacher telling me why they are trustworthy."
Once hired, students show up about 30-45 minutes early for school every Thursday morning throughout the school year. There is a truck driver (who picks up the mail from the main office), a facer (who organizes the mail so the addresses are in the same direction), a canceler (who stamps the mail), sorters (who sort the mail by classrooms) and mail carriers (who deliver the mail to the classrooms).
"We try to keep it as close to real post offices as we can," Hoff said.
Teachers in the building can let their students write letters whenever they want. Some write as part of lessons and others during free periods. Either way the kids say they are learning from it.
"If people don't know how to write and mail a letter then, if someone they know lives all the way in Germany, they can't get mail," Isaak said. "And we get to learn the whole process."
All the kids working in the mailroom love it.
"I've been doing it since I was in kindergarten," said the postmaster, Julian Venzor, a fourth grader. "It's just fun delivering the mail and being with your friends."
There is also a connection with the kids who apply and Hoff. All of them mentioned they had Hoff as either a kindergarten or first-grade teacher and said they love Hoff and like being with her.
"It is very fun," said Jason Gonzalez, 10. "Mrs. Hoff was my first grade teacher, and I just really like her."
Hoff said the kids take their job very seriously.
"I am very proud of our kids," she said. "It makes them feel like this is their school and they are a part of it."
Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, http://greeleytribune.com