RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – Fifth-grade students from Far Rockaway P.S. 104 were greeted in Ridgefield not only by their pen pals at Scotland Elementary School but by a day of games, prizes and a visit from a Harlem Wizard.
The schools connected after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Far Rockaway area displacing nearly 150 families who attend P.S. 104, not including the teachers and administrators who work at the school.
“We’ve just been helping our families in need” said Mary Bernudez a teacher at P.S. 104 who goes by Ms B. Bernudez is one of the coordinators of the Play it Forward program started by P.S. 104 to help students and families in their area. “This year, we need help and [Scotland] adopted us, and what a school to adopt us.”
On Wednesday, the fifth-grade classes from both schools met for the first time after months of exchanging pen-pal letters. Scotland’s fifth-graders stood outside their school holding signs with their pen-pal’s names shouting “P.S. 104” as the two busses approached the school.
Friendships that started in letters grew as they met each other in person. For Farida Olaleye, from P.S 104, and Maddy Dec, from Scotland, meeting was really exciting.
“I’m most excited about the field day because we get to meet out pen pals,” said Olaleye. In many ways these two girls became very good friends. Olaleye’s mom is having twin girls this year, and one will be named Maddy. “My baby sister will remind me that Maddy was my best pen pal.”
All the students were excited to meet each other and find out the secrets like a visit from David Paul a player from the Harlem Wizards. The students from P.S. 104 also received full backpacks donated by Pepsi Co. and their pen pals added personal prizes and other goodies.
“Hands down, without a doubt this will continue,” said Bernudez. “These kids love it. Most of them don’t ever leave Far Rockaway. We do anything that we can to get them life experience.”
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