Letters from the heart: Newspaper staff forms bonds with 18+ program students

Megan Krenek

The art of writing letters has been replaced by grammatically lacking text messages and snapchat videos. Society uses phones and email to send a message in mere seconds. For the students in the 18+ program, which helps students continue to learn life skills after they graduate from high school through the special education department, experiencing the same social interactions that other students do can sometimes be difficult.

This semester, the journalism class wrote short letters to the BISD 18+ program. The letters help the students with reading and comprehension and bring a smile to both the recipient and the writer’s face. 

In general, everyone wants to feel wanted and involved with their peers. As a newspaper staff, we felt it was a small thing we could do that would go a long way. It’s not a difficult thing to do so I’ve frequently wondered why no one had done it before.

The idea to write letters to the 18+ program students came to me because I have written to my Aunt Derri for about two years now. She lives in Ireland and has special needs. 

The letters have to be read to her, but she enjoys them so much and she has improved on writing her name because of them. Along with learning while reading, she shows them to everyone she meets because she is so proud to have the letters. That alone is enough for me to know that she is happy when she gets those letters and encourages me to keep writing.

When the letters are written it’s easy to come up with content. Just asking simple questions like: “How have you been,” “What is your favorite class?”, or even “What’s your favorite snack food?” allows students to feel connected to their peers.

Covid-19 has put a strain on the letters to the students, and I think about it almost everyday. 

I’m saddened because we can’t communicate with them and we won’t get to go to lunch with them at the end of the year like we planned due to quarantine.

 I’m also sad because I didn’t know it would be my last time to write a letter to them, and I hope that in the following years, other journalism students will continue to write to this group of students. 

Connecting with others has had an immeasurable impact on my life and has filled me with a sense of purpose and meaning that can’t be acquired any other way. Helping others connect on a relational level is one of the most important things you can do in life.

During this time of COVID-19, I encourage everyone to find someone who is lonely. It could be someone with special needs, someone with autism, someone at a nursing home, or someone who is autoimmune compromised. Right now, each of us needs to connect on a personal level more than ever and many people might not have the means to do so.

So pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and do something that will mean the world to someone else…and it will bring joy to your heart as well.