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Writing Project Connects Kids with Their Heroes

A computer class assignment aimed at writing letters gets responses from students' personal heroes, including the US President himself.
(WESTON, Mo.) Angelica Maxwell's computer class is not just a computer class.

The West Platte Elementary teacher likes to keep an open mind.  And a recent assignment simply asked students to format a letter.

"They were free to mail whomever," Maxwell said.  "I think for them to have that choice really opened up their creativity.  Sometimes if you put too many limits to it or stipulations, it hinders the creative writing aspect of it.  This shows their passion for what they're writing."

She helped them with the structure, but the students did the rest.

They used search engines to find the right addresses, and the right people to whom they should send their letters.

And the letters went to a myriad of recipients.

Sixth grader Brayden Cogan says his goal is to play basketball in the NBA, which is exactly what he told NBA Commissioner David Stern in his letter.

"I was just telling them how I've been working hard," Cogan said.  "My dream is to be in the NBA.  I told him about where I'm from - a small town - and what my position is."

Several of Ms. Maxwell's students got responses from their letters.

Mikaela Truxal was the first to get a response: from Pixar Studios.

"They said they love hearing from the fans, and then the next thing I pulled out was an autographed picture from the movie Up, signed by the director," Truxal said, showing off the picture.

And then there's fourth grader Grant Shouse, who wrote to the highest office in the land - the President of the United States.

"I wrote some things like 'What college did you go to?' 'How do you control the Army or approve new laws?'" Shouse explains, also happily showing off the packet he received in response.

Shouse got a letter, signed by the president; he also received several photographs.

"I was really excited; my teacher said 'You got a letter from the President.' I was like 'Whoa!'" he says, with a big smile.

And it's that excitement that this teacher says makes the learning process all the more rewarding.

The next assignment in Ms. Maxwell's class is even more creative.
  
Students are asked to come up with their own country.

They have to give it a name, a language, a flag, and a national anthem.

Maxwell says building a nation from the ground up teaches them lessons from almost all other subjects, but in a much more fun way.

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