Mail Teaches Students About Their World


A group of kindergartners from Payson Community Christian School have made friends all over the United States and the world through the mail.

As part of their history class, the youngsters compose special "traveling bear" letters to friends and relatives.


Rachael Sutton was the first child into the seat of the mail truck. Logan Wingate, Gabriel Driscoll-Lowe, Karson Ross and Bryndee Hall wait their turn in the driver's seat.

"We told (the letter recipients) we would appreciate it if they would send us back information about where they lived," teacher Ann Leonard said. "Historical information about that town, city or even country with pictures, too, if possible, so we could study and understand what it is like in that particular area."

The children cut and colored several traveling bears.

These grizzly bears, brown bears and colorful bears were stamped, and trekked across the country from Payson to Alaska, Florida and New Jersey. The bears even carried the children's requests for information to far away places like England and Australia.

Leonard said she's happy people have been good about responding.

"We are getting a package from, I think it is Ohio, where the Heinz factory is," Leonard said. "We are going to get little bottles of ketchup for each child, showing the manufacturing that is in that city."

The children were wide eyed and attentive when they delivered their last batch of traveling-bear letters to the post office, where Payson Postmaster Kathy Almendarez showed them the ropes.

Almendarez and retail associate Ellen Kitchen found 37-cent Disney stamps for some of the children to use on their letters.

The ninth letter, requiring an 80-cent stamp, went to Shiloh Ellis' relatives in London.

"Some stamps have holograms in them you can only see if you have a postal decoder," Kitchen said. "Doesn't that sound like a spy tool?"

She showed the children a unique Thomas Jefferson stamp that shows a hologram of his signature through a special decoder.

The children brought their letters -- with stamps properly placed in the upper right hand corner -- and filed into the back of the post office.

The students took turns date stamping their letters in red ink.

"I have a little machine that does it a lot quicker, would you like to see that?" Almendarez asked.

"Yeah!" nine little voices answered.

"Let's get a few letters," Almendarez said.

She held the children's attention, showing them the stamp-canceling machine and the different carrier sorting bins and trays.

Most of the mail that comes into the Payson office is sent to Phoenix, she told the children.

Mail carriers, who are only given 33 hours to learn their jobs, sort their own mail by delivery order, which is not always by address.

The field trip culminated in a trip outside to see inside a real mail truck.

Empty, the truck fit all the children at once; filled with mail, trucks barely have enough room for the driver.

Now the children will await more response letters and bottles of ketchup.

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