Miles was nervous too. “I just can’t wait for this day to be over,” he said repeatedly. He’d been preparing for his Eagle Scout project months and dreading it for at least a week.
Setting up booths in the Sand Ridge Junior High lunch room and inviting students to write Thank You cards to servicemen and women seemed like a good idea initially but as the event grew closer the fear grew greater. What if no one comes to the table? What if the kids totally ignore it or, worse, mock it? Junior high students can be such fickle creatures….. The possibility of fail was real….and scary.
We set up two tables in the lunchroom, one equipped with cards and pens, the second full of bling donated by Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine recruiters. The plan was to lure students over with the trinkets, persuade them to write a letter while they were there, and then reward them with bling.
Almost from the moment the first lunch bell rang, there were students at the table signing cards. And they were not just signing cards, they were writing letters. Writing letters!!! I teach junior high students. I know how hard it is to get them to write complete sentences, much less complete letters. Yet these incredible students were writing incredible letters. And not just a few of them. LOTS of them.
Within the first few moments it was clear that one table was not enough. We got a second table for the letter writers and probably could have filled several more. Not once, during first or second lunch, was there a lasting gap at the letter writing table. When one student finished writing a card, another student stepped in.
And, get this…..There were no chairs at the tables. The students, about 130 of them, knelt to write the card. In the lunchroom, in the midst of their friends, they knelt on the floor so they could write on the tables.
Wonderful. Awesome. And inspiring.
Oh how I wish the naysayers--those people who lament about the youth of today--could have seen the Sand Ridge students. They are fabulous people and our future is in good hands.
I will carry images of those kids in my heart forever, kneeling on the cafeteria floor, squinting as they looked up at the instructions on the poster, heads bent over cards, lips pursed as they intently and sometimes laboriously but always sincerely expressed their admiration and gratitude. I took some absolutely darling photos of those amazing kids, pictures that capture their magnificence much better than my words do but, just before the end of second lunch, a SRJH administrator reminded me that I cannot post any photos of students unless I have parental permission. Yep. I should have known that. So the fabulous photos will remain in Miles’ scrapbook and you will have to settle for my less-than-ideal word pictures.
I have, however, included photos of some of the letters they wrote. Read through them. They are endearing, heartfelt, sincere, and very real. Watching those students and reading their messages filled me with hope and gratitude and love.
I want to add my thanks to theirs. Thank you to all who have served our great country and thank you to all who are grateful for their service and appreciative of it.