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Valentine’s Day project at Poff Elementary shares kindness nationwide

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Kami Stahlman, Greyson Morelli and Sierra Vida showcase their Valentine’s Day projects where students from Poff Elementary sent and received mail from all over North America.
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Abigail Mascaro works on a Valentine’s Day project where students from Poff Elementary sent Valentine’s to students all over North America.
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Anthony Matkovich works on a Valentine’s Day project where students from Poff Elementary sent Valentine’s to students all over North America.
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Declan Stewart and Sophie Mota-Burch point to a location on the map from where they received mail.

A group of Hampton second-graders got to show the love to students at schools across the nation this past Valentine’s Day thanks to a new social media educational project led by their teacher.

Marilyn Adams, a second-grade teacher at Poff Elementary, spearheaded an online Valentine’s Day project where her students exchanged cards with 20 different schools across the United States and Canada.

She got the idea because last year she and fellow second-grade teacher Amy Rein participated in a similar online project where they were asked to send cards to 20 different schools.

Adams said their students enjoyed it so much that she decided to take on the challenge of starting her own online Valentine card exchange, though she wasn’t quite sure how to do it.

She began by posting an invitation to the project via Facebook and on a teacher-collaborating Twitter Professional Learning Network.

It grew from there.

“The responses started coming in quickly as these teachers … and others, including administrators … retweeted the invitation,” she said.

At last count, the list of participants grew to 175 teachers from 42 states and four provinces. The participants were separated into eight groups. The challenge was to try to divide the participants from certain states evenly so the students would have a variety of responses from different states.

Rein’s second grade from Poff is also participating as well as Justine Borst’s first grade class at Poff.

The states from which Poff students either sent or received cards include: Kansas, Minnesota, California, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Missouri, and Illinois. Also, two provinces in Canada – Ontario and Manitoba, said Adams, who has been at Poff 32 years.

They track the locations on a map

“I am thrilled with the connections we are making through this authentic, purposeful writing project. The students are learning how schools across the country and Canada can be the same and different from ours. They are practicing geography skills. They are spreading kindness,” said Adams.

A few of the Poff second-graders expressed how much fun they had with the project.

Julia Killmeyer, 7, noted how while there are some similarities at the schools they sent Valentines, there also were a lot of differences.

The school that stood out to April Sanders, 7, the most was one from New Jersey. “Their school is by a train station, so they have a train theme in their school which is kind of neat,” she said.

She also noted similarities and differences. “Some of them have more field trips than we do and some of them don’t go to school for five days every week,” said Sanders.

Hailey Jacobs, 7, said the school that was most like her own was Heritage Elementary in the Franklin Regional School District, but the one that seemed the most different so far is in Minnesota, where the kids only go to school on Tuesday through Friday.

“I think I would like only having school four days a week. It would give me an extra day to sleep in,” Jacobs said.

Adams said she plans on doing the project again next year, hopefully bigger and better.

“I am thrilled with the use of social media platforms to connect teachers and students. Teachers post photos of students making and receiving cards with the hashtag #Grade2Valentines2019. We can all enjoy the excitement a class feels when they receive mail,” Adams said.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.