LINDEN, NJ — Fifth-graders at Linden School No. 5 are getting a taste of what it’s like to be classroom leaders, and post office employees, through this year’s Wee Deliver system, a novel take on what it means to be a role model in school.
Students who act responsibly, in and out of the classroom, become part of the “K-Kids” group that organizes the Wee Deliver system, in which students of all grade levels write letters to their peers around Linden School No. 5.
“The Wee Deliver is a program the school made up so we could send letters to our classmates, and other people we don’t really see on a regular basis in the school,” said Kristian Olivares, one of the fifth-graders in the K-Kids program. “We could send letters saying what we did over the weekend, or if we’re doing a good job in class.”
The program is a good way to keep in teach with friends and siblings — one student’s eyes “light up” when she receives a letter from her older brother — encourage the students to improve their writing skills, and give the K-Kids some measure of responsibility, as they’re the ones who deliver the letters to various classrooms.
Anyone can send mail by placing it in the large, wooden mailbox stationed prominently in one of the school’s hallways, but students also participate in monthly, school-wide writing events for which they pen letters. These range from the creative, such as a prompt asking the students to write about fictional spiders, to the curricular, like this month’s subject of black history month.
“The letter writing is cross curricular, so it ties into our literacy program writing, as well. For instance, the students have to write about a famous African-American to tie into Black History Month and social science,” said Roxy Suggs, the teacher who came up with the Wee Deliver program.
Another idea Suggs had was to re-name the hallways, to encourage students and make delivery easier.
“All of the street names are based on our good character traits or a theme that we’re working with that ties into our student of the month. Themes like ‘do your best,’ ‘Friendship St.,’ ‘trustworthiness.’”
Delivering the letters, and being placed in the K-Kids program, represents a big responsibility for the fifth-graders, they said. The younger students look up to the the K-Kids, which puts them on their best behavior at all times.
“Every time we’re in the hallway, a little class walks by and our teacher always tells us ‘set examples, set examples,’ and we stand tall and all one behind another, not jump out of line and form our own,” said Michelle Henderson, one of the program’s fifth-graders. “They’re going to try to act like you because they’re younger, so you have to set an example.”
“I try to be a role model for the younger kids by walking in the hallways properly, saying please and thank you, using your manners,” added Olivares, emphasizing how important it was that he set an example. “That’s basically what I do.”
Teachers at Linden School No. 5 have incorporated Wee Deliver into their classes. During language arts and reading, for example, students can write letters to their peers in-between time spent at reading stations. If students write to teachers or other staff members, they pen letters back, encouraging the process.
The Linden Kiwanis are also involved, as each Kiwanis member sponsors a group of K-Kids in the district, including those running Wee Deliver at Linden School No. 5. But it’s really the kids who drive it all, says Suggs, by taking their role of responsibility and turning it into something special.
“Everybody is involved in this program. Staff members write back to the students who write them, so it’s an ongoing communication,” said Suggs. “But the students take this program and run with it. They’re the ones who take the letters, mail them and sort them.”