Girl gets greeting by way of ‘air mail’

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2003

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Morgantown third grader Brittany King received an early holiday greeting: &uot;God Bless. Merry Christmas.&uot;

In September, Morgantown students released balloons for the kick-off of their accelerated reader program. As the bright colored balls floated into the air, King thought she would never see that bright orange balloon again.

&uot;I wanted to keep it,&uot; she admitted. But, &uot;I thought it was going to pop.&uot;

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Little did she know that balloon would travel all the way to Wesson, Mississippi and the note she had attached would find a resident there.

Before sending off the balloons, the students wrote down on a small card why they thought reading was important and why they enjoyed reading and even perhaps a little about themselves.

&uot;I, Brittany King, feel that reading is fun and I like it very much because I want to become a book reporter some day. I am very good at reading too,&uot; was the message Keith Hamilton found in Wesson, not too long ago.

But Hamilton did not write a note about how or where he found the balloon, just a simple message penned onto the back of the card from the balloon that read, &uot;God Bless. Merry Christmas.&uot; He also included his name and return address as was also printed on the front of the envelope he mailed it back to Morgantown in.

Since there was no explanation on how he found it and it had been months from the December postmark to the September release, all King and her teacher Connie Freeman and Title I parent/teacher liaison Evelyn Hutchins could do was take a guess. &uot;I think he was a hunter in the woods and found it, myself,&uot; Freeman said.

King decided that was a good explanation. She decided it was still blown up, it had not popped when he found it and that it must have been caught in some branches for Hamilton to find it.

King was glad he decided to send it back to her and she would have done the same. King decided she wanted to write to Hamilton to thank him and &uot;tell him I’m surprised he found my letter.&uot;

&uot;I think it’s pretty neat that he took the time to let her know he found it,&uot; Freeman said.

So, what did King do but write Hamilton a Christmas card to let him know she received the card back.

&uot;Dear Mr. Hamilton,&uot; King wrote out with her pencil, eraser included for the small errors she would make writing her first letter.

&uot;We haven’t started to write letters yet,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;We are just doing paragraphs now.&uot; So, King was getting a head start.

With Freeman and Hutchins there to help, she finished her letter. &uot;My name is Brittany King. I am so excited that you found my Accelerated Reader message. Where did you find my message? … Thank you very much. Merry Christmas.&uot; And she signed her name.

After writing the letter, King said she was &uot;excited&uot; and hoping to get a response from Hamilton to find out the secret to her flying balloon. The Accelerated Reader program is a program to enhance students’ reading and comprehension skills, Hutchins said.

The students check out books from the library on the AR list and then take tests either in their classrooms or in the library on the books they have read to test their comprehension. The students receive points for the tests they pass and can shop in the AR store of goodies with the points they have earned.

Hutchins said it has worked at Morgantown, and &uot;reading comprehension has improved.&uot;