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home : features : schools August 28, 2014

2/26/2014 8:20:00 AM
Author replies to students' letters about her book
Student teacher Jenica Artip, of Mingus Springs Charter School, shows bookmarks from which to pick by author Donna Latham, for students, from left, Samantha Holland and Seth Shackleford, this past Wednesday.
Student teacher Jenica Artip, of Mingus Springs Charter School, shows bookmarks from which to pick by author Donna Latham, for students, from left, Samantha Holland and Seth Shackleford, this past Wednesday.

Salina Sialega
Chino Valley Review

Susan Romney's third grade class at Mingus Springs Charter School in Chino Valley has a celebrity friend. They exchanged letters and jokes and received gifts from the celebrity.

The celebrity is author Donna Latham of Texas, whom the students read about at their school, then wrote letters to. They read her book about the solar system, "Seeing Stars." Students then wrote letters to her about their interests in space, astronauts, and so on. Student Aurora Haver told the author in her letter that before reading her book, she thought planets were boring, but now she thinks they are "cool."

Aurora was excited that in the author's reply letter, she told Aurora about the Northern Lights, like her name, the aurora borealis lights that make striking colors and shapes in the night sky.

In a reply letter to the class, Latham called them "a great group of new friends..." She also sent a bookmark for each one, all hand-made and all different, with her autograph on the back.

Latham also answered each student's letter with a personalized reply letter.

"That's awesome!" exclaimed student Cailyn Brock. Cailyn especially enjoyed the astronaut joke that Latham told her in her personalized letter.

"How does the astronaut describe her job? Answer: She says it is absolutely heavenly."

Student Aiden Free told Latham a joke in his letter to her, then Latham wrote one back.

"Where do astronauts keep their sandwiches? Answer: In their launch boxes."

"Get it - launch, like a lunch box?" Aiden asked Cailyn.

Student teacher Jenica Artlip said the letter-writing project has many real-life learning experiences for the students.

"I was really impressed," Artlip said, "learning that other authors respond to students, and that they are real people. It shows the students that writing is a career choice they can consider doing. Writing and receiving letters has been a life connection."

The class continued on with an assignment that also gave the students their own chance to be authors. They wrote and read aloud "Silly Stories."

Kitana Cameron read her "Silly Story" about a group of friends on an adventure, which definitely got some laughs from her classmates.

"They fought a tiger!" Kitana read. "They fought a lion! They fought a..... (pause for effect) ... a prairie dog!"

Roars of laughter. There may be some more authors in the making in Mrs. Romney's class.

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