Editor’s note: The following is an update provided by Hodgesville Elementary School Principal Janet Phillips.
HODGESVILLE — Hearts Around the World has been a huge success at Hodgesville Elementary School. At the beginning of February, we advertised on Facebook asking family and friends to send our students a valentine from their state. As of today, we have received 271 valentines from 48 of the 50 states, Washington DC, Canada, and Germany. We are missing Oklahoma and North Dakota but have received information that cards are in the mail from those states. We also have insight into a card coming from Greece. We received 26 cards from Florida with Ohio close behind with 22 cards. We have received multiple cards from most states.
When the valentines started arriving — stacks of them each day —- they were divided up between classes for the students to open. Each classroom teacher used them in different ways for engaging learning. The kindergarteners can now immediately identify WV on a US map. They have also determined whether it would be better to fly or drive to the destination of each card. Fourth graders have been tracking the cards on their own maps as compared to their travels. Also, Mrs. Anderson has used the cards to help students learn about addressing envelopes and which is the return address and mailing address. Each classroom has been excited to see the daily delivery of valentines.
A bulletin board was dedicated for displaying the valentines. After two days, it was full, and the display expanded onto the surrounding wall. A map is displayed showing the states represented.
It has been amazing seeing the involvement of the Upshur County community. There have been so many shares of the request by former students and parents, as well as complete strangers. Rebecca Dunlap, and employee at St. Gobain / Corhart, has been very involved. She checked daily to see which states we needed and was able to reach out to branches of the company worldwide. Even the Mayor of Huntington, WV sent us a card.
One card was from an individual who attended Hodgesville Elementary School in the 1960’s. He shared information about the “old” school and how he attended there, but older students were in the new building. A lady from Louisiana told the kids about the 25-mile Pontchartrain Bridge she crossed to buy their card and sent a picture. We also received potato memorabilia from Idaho. A graduate of BUHS who now teaches at Purdue University sent us a card.
This has been a heartwarming activity in the middle of a pandemic. While we are striving to maintain some normalcy for our students, this was the icing on the cake. To see the number of people around the world who care enough to send a card to an elementary school in rural West Virginia brings tears to your eyes. Thank you to our wonderful community for spreading the word and helping bring smiles to both the students and staff!