May 6, 2009
When writing the president of the United States, Trailridge Middle School eighth-grader Tyler Jewell thought about his family.
“I wrote to him about the troops in Iraq,” Tyler said. “I thought about the importance of issues first, then about my family because my brother is about to join the Marines.”
Tyler’s letter, along with eight other Trailridge eighth-graders’ letters, are featured in a new book “Dear President Obama: Letters of Hope from Children Across America”.
Writers Bruce Kluger and David Tabatsky collected artwork and letters from more than 179 students, ages 4 to 18, to capture young citizens’ perspective on the new president.
The students wrote letters to President Barack Obama as an assignment for Teri Keeton’s computer dimensions 2 class.
A colleague from Indian Woods Middle School had contacted about the book. After finding out more about the project, Keeton decided to have students write letters as an assignment for class.
The letter was the students’ first assignment after the winter break, Keeton said.
“They wrote the letters one day, and corrected them the next,” she said. The letters had to be submitted only days after the students returned from their midyear holiday.
With the quick turn-around, Keeton submitted electronic or paper slips home to parents asking for permission to submit their child’s letter for the book. Twenty-four students wrote letters, but only nine were included in the book.
The assignment asked students to write letters to the president about what they would like to see happen in the next four years.
The war was a topic of interest for several students, including Waleed Saifan, who wrote of the need to stop the war.
A majority of students wrote about the economic issues facing the nation.
Allie Soto’s letter featured ideas about what Obama should do about the economy.
“I said it should be his first priority,” she said.
Jeremy Farmer wrote about the economy also, but on a more personal level.
“My dad was out of a job at the time I wrote the letter,” he said.
Cecilia Smith’s letter focused on what the president could do about the economy, but said improving schools was also a big issue.
Connor Kelley said he warned Obama not to let the economy plunge more into a recession.
“I said he needed to do things that will help, not just spend,” Connor said.
Other letters were written to simply let the president know he had the youths’ support.
Nate Brunner’s letter praised Obama’s work so far in office.
“I wanted to be encouraging,” he said.
Keeton said she found out in April the book had been published.
Excerpts of the Trailridge letters appear on one page, the opposing page features letters from Indian Woods Middle School.
Nathan Rupp said finding out his letter was published was exciting.
“It was exciting because a lot of people are going to read it,” he said. “I’m honored to be chosen out of hundreds.”
Kylie Skelton’s family already purchased the book.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” she said. “My mom thought it was cool too.”
Originally published at: http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2009/may/06/dear-president-obama/