Thetford School Students Start Their Own Post Office

Apr 17, 2013

While some post offices in the Upper Valley are cutting back hours to save money, there’s actually a new one that’s doing just fine—for free.

First-graders at the Thetford Elementary School have started their own postal service.  Letters get dropped into a big blue cardboard mailbox in the school lobby.  

At ten o’clock sharp each weekday morning, it gets emptied.

Jack Cramer, a first grader, has mail duty on this day,  along with his friend Shannon O’Donnell---assisted by teacher’s aide Wanda Vaughan.

“We just get mail from this mailbox and then we put it in the basket over there. Then we go back to our classroom and sort it. And then we deliver it,” Jack explained as he fished into the box for letters.

For Jack and Shannon, real mail is way better than email.

“Because so you can save it and it’s kind of easier,” Shannon said. “ And so then you can like remember that person if you are kind of older.”

Jack Cramer and Shannon O'Donnell, first graders at Thetford Elementary School, share mail duty.
Credit VPR/Charlotte Albright

“Yeah,” Jack added.  “If someone wrote you a letter, and they’re like older, kind of like in sixth grade or fifth, fourth, or third, and if you don’t know them it would be a good idea to write them back. Like you could say, ‘dear blah, what is your name’, and they could write, ‘love, blah.’ ”

Or, a whole first grade could compose a letter of apology, in haiku form, to the Spanish teacher for being a little too wild recently. That one went into the wire box, too.

Back in the classroom, sorting began. Looking on, teacher Kevin Petrone said he got this idea from Rivendell School, which serves the Fairlee area and also has its own post office. He said it’s great for the young couriers to meet older kids and teachers as they make their rounds.

“Because so often we get stuck inside our classrooms and don’t get a chance to branch out. And this has been a great opportunity for kids to reach out to buddies in different classes and send mail and letters. They’ve been sending pencils and erasers and different kinds of trinkets back and forth,” Petrone said.

Some parents also send notes through the school office to brighten up their children’s school day. Teachers say the flood of messages—1,000 letters, on the opening day—is improving handwriting, which some fear is becoming a lost art in the Internet age.

After the sorting is done, Jack and Shannon set off on their delivery route through school.

Meanwhile, right across the street,  in Thetford’s real post office, Mike Doucette was working behind the window. If he gets laid off, he figures he might end up working for his competition—a  bunch of first graders.

“I could use all the revenue I could get and all the work hours I could get, so they’re taking it away from me, it seems,” he joked.  

Smiling, Doucette admitted he doesn’t have a lot of  mail delivery experience, but would be willing to learn on the job.

Thetford School Students Start Their Own Post Office

While some post offices in the Upper Valley are cutting back hours to save money, there’s actually a new one that’s doing just fine—for free.

First-graders at the Thetford Elementary School have started their own postal service.  Letters get dropped into a big blue cardboard mailbox in the school lobby.  

At ten o’clock sharp each weekday morning, it gets emptied.

Jack Cramer, a first grader, has mail duty on this day,  along with his friend Shannon O’Donnell---assisted by teacher’s aide Wanda Vaughan.

“We just get mail from this mailbox and then we put it in the basket over there. Then we go back to our classroom and sort it. And then we deliver it,” Jack explained as he fished into the box for letters.

For Jack and Shannon, real mail is way better than email.

“Because so you can save it and it’s kind of easier,” Shannon said. “ And so then you can like remember that person if you are kind of older.”

“Yeah,” Jack added.  “If someone wrote you a letter, and they’re like older, kind of like in sixth grade or fifth, fourth, or third, and if you don’t know them it would be a good idea to write them back. Like you could say, ‘dear blah, what is your name’, and they could write, ‘love, blah.’ ”

Or, a whole first grade could compose a letter of apology, in haiku form, to the Spanish teacher for being a little too wild recently. That one went into the wire box, too.

Back in the classroom, sorting began. Looking on, teacher Kevin Petrone said he got this idea from Rivendell School, which serves the Fairlee area and also has its own post office. He said it’s great for the young couriers to meet older kids and teachers as they make their rounds.

“Because so often we get stuck inside our classrooms and don’t get a chance to branch out. And this has been a great opportunity for kids to reach out to buddies in different classes and send mail and letters. They’ve been sending pencils and erasers and different kinds of trinkets back and forth,” Petrone said.

Some parents also send notes through the school office to brighten up their children’s school day. Teachers say the flood of messages—1,000 letters, on the opening day—is improving handwriting, which some fear is becoming a lost art in the Internet age.

After the sorting is done, Jack and Shannon set off on their delivery route through school.

Meanwhile, right across the street,  in Thetford’s real post office, Mike Doucette was working behind the window. If he gets laid off, he figures he might end up working for his competition—a  bunch of first graders.

“I could use all the revenue I could get and all the work hours I could get, so they’re taking it away from me, it seems,” he joked.  

Smiling, Doucette admitted he doesn’t have a lot of  mail delivery experience, but would be willing to learn on the job.

Thetford School Students Start Their Own Post Office

While some post offices in the Upper Valley are cutting back hours to save money, there’s actually a new one that’s doing just fine—for free.

First-graders at the Thetford Elementary School have started their own postal service.  Letters get dropped into a big blue cardboard mailbox in the school lobby.  

At ten o’clock sharp each weekday morning, it gets emptied.

Jack Cramer, a first grader, has mail duty on this day,  along with his friend Shannon O’Donnell---assisted by teacher’s aide Wanda Vaughan.

“We just get mail from this mailbox and then we put it in the basket over there. Then we go back to our classroom and sort it. And then we deliver it,” Jack explained as he fished into the box for letters.

For Jack and Shannon, real mail is way better than email.

“Because so you can save it and it’s kind of easier,” Shannon said. “ And so then you can like remember that person if you are kind of older.”

“Yeah,” Jack added.  “If someone wrote you a letter, and they’re like older, kind of like in sixth grade or fifth, fourth, or third, and if you don’t know them it would be a good idea to write them back. Like you could say, ‘dear blah, what is your name’, and they could write, ‘love, blah.’ ”

Or, a whole first grade could compose a letter of apology, in haiku form, to the Spanish teacher for being a little too wild recently. That one went into the wire box, too.

Back in the classroom, sorting began. Looking on, teacher Kevin Petrone said he got this idea from Rivendell School, which serves the Fairlee area and also has its own post office. He said it’s great for the young couriers to meet older kids and teachers as they make their rounds.

“Because so often we get stuck inside our classrooms and don’t get a chance to branch out. And this has been a great opportunity for kids to reach out to buddies in different classes and send mail and letters. They’ve been sending pencils and erasers and different kinds of trinkets back and forth,” Petrone said.

Some parents also send notes through the school office to brighten up their children’s school day. Teachers say the flood of messages—1,000 letters, on the opening day—is improving handwriting, which some fear is becoming a lost art in the Internet age.

After the sorting is done, Jack and Shannon set off on their delivery route through school.

Meanwhile, right across the street,  in Thetford’s real post office, Mike Doucette was working behind the window. If he gets laid off, he figures he might end up working for his competition—a  bunch of first graders.

“I could use all the revenue I could get and all the work hours I could get, so they’re taking it away from me, it seems,” he joked.  

Smiling, Doucette admitted he doesn’t have a lot of  mail delivery experience, but would be willing to learn on the job.