More than 100 fifth graders have learned personal history as students and seniors connected through letters to explore the history of the Cuban Missle Crisis. 

In Delaware City School District the students and fifty seniors have become pen pals over the past five months.They exchanged three letters about a book they read together. 

Students and Seniors Connected Through Letters

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The book, Countdown by Deborah Wiles, focuses on a 10 year old girl who grew up during the Cuban Missle Crisis, and was chosen by fifth grade teacher Amber Bauer. 

Bauer used Connections Volunteer Center to recruit the seniors. Some had volunteered for last year’s pen pal program, but others were first-timers, she said.

Some seniors volunteered for one-on-one reading intervention with the students, and some even shared their experiences of growing up in the 1960s.

“One of the seniors brought in her diary from 1962, when she was 10 years old, which was the same age as the character in the book,” Bauer said.

“She read out of the diary, showed photographs and her school picture, and the students really got a feel for what it would have been like in school at that time.”

Bauer said she chose the book because she wanted the seniors to be able to share their experiences with students and for students to learn to separate what they read into fact and fiction.

“Since they don’t have a lot of life experiences, they can’t read something and know which parts the author made up and which parts are real,” she said, “but talking to someone who has lived through it, they can see that these things really happened.”

Students and Seniors Connected Through Letters

Click image to purchase book

Bauer said some of the seniors were adults during the 1960s and remember many details; others were young but can recall preparing for an air-raid by ducking and covering.

“We even had one senior who was a teacher who wrote about doing drills with their class of students during that time,” she said.

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