WARREN BOARD Project connects staffers, pupils

The project taught the pupils about writing and government.
WARREN -- Tanara Earnest, 9, used several tricks to try to throw her journal buddy off the trail of her true identity.
"My code name was Reggie because I like 'Rocket Power,'" she said, referring to a cartoon show with a mischievous glint in her eye. "I used a boyish name because Reggie is a tomboy." Reggie is a female character on the show.
Tanara and her classmates in Suzanne Spirito's third-grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School had been writing journal entries to employees at the board of education office since September.
The employee then wrote back, also using a code name, with employee and pupil trying to get to know each other. The journal buddies met for an early Valentine's Day lunch Tuesday at the board office.
Each pupil had one half of a construction paper heart while the employee wore the other half.
Spirito said the aim of the project was threefold.
"First, it gives a real world connection to writing," she said.
Secondly, the board of education provides a parallel to government, showing that there are a lot of different departments working together, Spirito said.
"The most important one is it makes the children aware that there are other people who are invested in their success beyond their teacher and principal."
Tanara's ploy fooled her journal buddy, Superintendent Betty English -- code name Aunt Bee -- who was convinced her pen pal was a boy.
"I don't know who's more excited, us or the kids," the superintendent said.
Another pair
Twins Rai'Twann and Rai'Shein Gaston, both 8, were paired with April Caraway, who works in the district's community outreach program, and Frances Barta, district treasurer.
Caraway's code name was Tanner, in honor of her dog, while Barta was appropriately, Money Lady.
"We wrote about different colors and the things that we like," said Rai'Twann, adding that he chose the code name Eagle because he likes birds.
The children presented their journal buddies with cards and a photograph of themselves.
"I told them that writing is like having a conversation except you write it down," Spirito said.

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