Middle School students are bringing joy to alumni young and older, through a letter-writing effort that catches the graduates up on school life amid a worldwide pandemic.
On October 28, Middle Schoolers each wrote two letters. With roughly 340 students in grades 7-9, Operation “You've Got Mail" will reach several hundred alumni. They were sent out just before Halloween to graduates from the past few years as well as members of Norfolk Academy's Cornerstone Society, who have celebrated their 50th reunions.
The effort accomplishes several things. It strengthens students' writing skills, as they considered highlights from this unusual year amid COVID-19, and how to explain them to both recent graduates and those who haven't visited campus in many years.
Also, doctors say both writing and receiving letters can be therapeutic during the pandemic. When Dr. Paige Frazer '89 and Dr. Dana Ramirez, pediatricians with Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Zoomed with Lower School students this fall, they said that receiving letters can boost morale for people who haven't been able to enjoy a lot of human interaction. They also said writing letters can help people feel better about themselves, because they are completing a kind act for others.
This letter-writing campaign is a starting point for Middle School service projects. Service is a key component of Academy school life, with students typically going into the community to lend a hand.
As Academy is following social distancing guidelines and many other safety protocols during the pandemic, such off-campus projects aren't possible for the time being. But students will continue to offer what volunteerism they can.
English teacher Betsy Guzik '89, who leads the Middle School community service program, said students will be writing more letters in the weeks and months ahead to other people who would appreciate them; for instance, elderly residents of assisted living. A student-driven board is being created to consider projects that would spread joy around the holiday season.
Please learn more about Academy's Middle School life, including the community service program.