📝 Pen Pal Program Connects London Towne and Westfield Students
On April 18, London Towne Elementary School’s Spanish Immersion students arrived at Westfield High School to meet mentors from the Spanish Honor Society who had been their pen pals.
The younger students arrived with hand-drawn portraits of what they believed their mentor would look like based on their written conversations. The portraits were hung in the hallways with their artists standing next to them. The students eagerly waited to see if their mentors were similar to the person they imagined.
Leading up to the field trip, Spanish Honor Society students worked together to plan activities for the day. They crafted interactive stations allowing the younger students to play with, and get to know, their older buddies. The activities ranged from board games, to making friendship bracelets, to playing “ice-breaker beach ball.” In addition to the fun stations, the students participated in small group tours of Westfield’s campus.
“The students worked very hard on this culminating event to meet their buddies in person.” said Maria Ferkova, sponsor of the Spanish Honor Society and a Spanish teacher at Westfield. “We hope they have fun, get to know each other, and practice Spanish if possible,” she said with a smile.
“The [Spanish Immersion] program is amazing for English and Spanish learners,” said Lucybeth Gutierrez, one of the Spanish Immersion teachers at London Towne. These students spend half of their school day learning in English and the other half learning in Spanish. The program is available to fifth and sixth graders and has about 60 students participating this year.
One of the aspects of this program is connecting with a pen pal and mentor at their future high school, Westfield. “The program gives the little students motivation,” said Spanish Immersion teacher Susie Niccoli. Although there are some difficulties that come with writing to each other in Spanish. “The letters are very detailed so time has been a challenge. Grammar can also be hard to work with in their writings.”
“My favorite part about writing to my pen pal was getting to know each other,” said fifth grader Valery. “I learned their favorite sport, music, and things they like. We both like cats, [K-pop group] Stray Kids, and have a younger sister.
“I loved the relationship-building and creating a valuable friendship with someone at a different age. Denise’s drawings are amazing,” said Emma, junior (pictured above, left). “My favorite part was having a pen pal. I loved learning about a new person and about communicating better,” her buddy, sixth grader Denise followed up (pictured above, right).