‘Happy Valentine Day’ wishes, coast-to-coast

Published 8:05 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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Woodie Guthrie penned the words “This land is your land; this land is my land; from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters…”

Leslie Smelcer, fifth and sixth grade teacher at Pike Liberal Arts School, was not thinking about Woodie Guthrie’s lyrics when she wrote a lesson plan for a geography project for her students. However, the lesson plan just might be a pilot program for schools across all 50 states.

Smelcer’s plan for a class project was for her students to learn more and know more about the United States by requesting a Valentine’s Day card from all 50 states. And, in the process, the students, would not only learn about the diversity of the 50 states and the wonders within, they would also learn more about the power of media and social media.

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The headline in a Delaware News Journal read, “Help this Ala. Class get a Valentine’s Day card from Delaware.

At that time, the fifteenth day of February, 38 of 50 states had sent cards for the project map. Delaware as not one of them.

The people of Delaware responded with 40 Valentines, and a special Valentine came from the state’s governor.

“The response to the project has been overwhelming,” Smelcer said. “We have received 311 Valentines including post cards, class pictures and notes from far and distant places.”

A special Valentine came from the U.S. Airforce Base in Ramstein, Germany

A young woman named Hannah wrote about living in Alaska and cards came from former PLAS students who live away, including Missy (Fleming) Loving who now lives in St. Louis, Missouri. A card came from an inmate who wanted be a part of “something very special.  ‘Love’ came from the Kissing Camels at the Garden of the Gods and the Broken Bridges in Ukraine.

Smelcer said it would not be possible to acknowledge all the students have learned from the Valentine’s Day project.

They have learned about this great country and its kind and caring people.

They have also learned the importance generosity.

“The fifth and sixth graders sent at $175 gift card to Bergen Community College in New Jersey to help them purchase peanut butter and jelly for their food pantry.