A Forked River class has made pen pals with one in Massachusetts after receiving letters of encouragement following Hurricane Sandy.
“One of my students has family that lives in the area,” teacher Tracey Cavaco said of her second grade class at Fall Brook Elementary School. “It was my understanding they lost everything. His mom asked if we could write a quick note to express our concerns.”
The Fall Brook class based out of Massachusetts wrote letters and had them sent down to Lacey Township.
“I am a firm believer what happens to one of our own, effects the entire classroom family,” she said. “I teach my students we are a family, and if one of us are hurting we need to work together to help one another through a difficult time.”
Following the hurricane, Cavaco held a “family meeting” to explain to the class what had happened.
“They were allowed to ask questions, add their knowledge and discuss openly,” she said.
The letters were a “small token” in which the students put much effort into, she said.
The school has a period called “enrichment,” utilized to re-teach a strategy the class has already learned to build upon and strengthen the skill, she said. The letter writing took two periods to complete.
“Students showed compassion, a desire to lift the reader’s spirit and thoughtful words of encouragement,” she said.
The mother of her student brought several truckloads of donated items down to the family, she said, along with the letters.
“My students are eager to hear how the students are doing,” she said.
The fourth grade Forked River School class was surprised to receive the letters and was in the process of responding.
“They were adorable,” teacher Kimberly Manganelli said of the letters from Fall Brook. “They were so sweet. There were pictures of rainbows and hearts.”
Manganelli described the letters as “encouraging” and “heartfelt.” Some mentioned prayers.
“They cared. Even though they haven’t met us, they cared about us,” she said. “The students were really happy that they cared about them enough to send a card. They were really excited about it.”
Manganelli’s class has “grateful journals” in which the students write about one or two things that they’re grateful for daily.
Students, who were affected by the hurricane, wrote about how happy they were to receive letters from Fall Brook, she said.
Responding back was also therapeutic in that it gave students the opportunity to talk about what happened, she said.
“It’s important,” she said. “Even still, we’re still talking about it…It’s so important the kids still have an outlet to talk about things and write about their experiences and having a daily journal to jot down their feelings.”