School revives art of snail mail
MAHOMET – On Tuesday, Sangamon School's Wee Deliver mail service will open for business, to help the school's first- and second-graders practice the fine art of snail mail.
On Friday, Principal Mark Cabutti launched the mail service program, revived at Sangamon after an absence of several years, by accepting a special letter delivered by second-grader Kaitlin Lewis, who marched up on stage wearing a carrier's vest and a mail bag.
"It's from Carle Hospital," Cabutti told children gathered for the assembly. "It says, '(teacher) Amy Boyer had her baby today!' Do the children in her class know the baby's name?"
"It's Ava Renee!" Boyer's excited students yelled back.
Sangamon enrichment teacher Karen Badger said she revived the mail program this year because it teaches children in both classes a lot about writing and good manners and about the value of friendly communications.
"Literacy is a primary focus at Sangamon, and they'll get a lot of practice in writing and reading during our post office," she said. "We wanted to do it during Valentine's Day because there will be a lot of excitement about that. These are children who are used to e-mails and cell phones, and they're not seeing written communications."
Before Christmas, Badger asked second-grade teachers to recommend students to work as carriers, postmasters, sorters, cancelers and nixie clerks. After Christmas, she asked youngsters who will be postmasters and clerks to take a test to demonstrate their knowledge of how the system works.
"Caleb came home with a study guide after Christmas, and he was very worried about the test," said Anne Taylor of her son, who was picked for a postmaster position. "He asked me to quiz him about what he needed to know."
"You have to do a lot of work to make sure the post office works right," Caleb said. "I already wrote two letters, one to Mr. Cabutti and one to a friend."
He said the best part about being postmaster was "being in charge." Other youngsters picked as postmasters are Jessica Durst, Kendall Eisenhauer and Paige Pintar.
The children must properly address their letters, and there are directories in each classroom to help them find the destination address – classroom numbers and streets named after the teachers in them, like 127 Boyer St., Mahomet, IL 61853 – and the names of the children in each room.
They deposit the letters in four mail boxes, two on each floor of the school, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the student workers sort, stamp and deliver their missives to the classroom.
"You can send them to friends, teachers, anyone in this building," Cabutti told the children. "Make sure they are nice letters. And when you get a letter, you write back."
The youngsters had a lot of questions. "What if the boxes are full?" Will Clodfelder asked.
Badger said letters can be put near the post boxes or in another box on the floor. Under no circumstances, she and Cabutti said, may youngsters open the boxes containing the letters.
"What if the postmaster is sick?" Lexi Hoffman asked. One of the other three will step in, Badger said.
Mahomet Postmaster Bob Dunlap administered an official oath of office to the four designated postmasters.
"It's not just letters and stamps," he said. "It's about making sure things get done the right way."