Pen Pal and Appreciation club spreads positivity around the world through letters

Writing for a cause. Junior Donovan Battle drafts a reply letter to a student in France learning English. Recently, the Pen Pal and Appreciation Club has collaborated with the French school to give the French students the opportunity to practice their English with American students their age, further strengthening their language skills social bonds.
Writing for a cause. Junior Donovan Battle drafts a reply letter to a student in France learning English. Recently, the Pen Pal and Appreciation Club has collaborated with the French school to give the French students the opportunity to practice their English with American students their age, further strengthening their language skills social bonds.
Luke Dautruche

In the age of digital communication, in which messages traverse the globe with the click of a button, handwritten letters have become increasingly scarce. However, members of the Pen Pal and Appreciation Club are pushing back. Putting time, effort and immense care into writing pen pal letters, club members are working to spread positivity to communities across the globe. By sending letters to everyone, from Broward County students to students in France, they are leaving their own personal mark on people’s lives.

Members of the Pen Pal and Appreciation Club at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have dedicated themselves to shining a light on those who are struggling and letting them know that they are never alone. Often, when people are going through issues, they tend to feel isolated and as though they have nobody to talk to. Thus, via pen pal letters, club members are uplifting people and encouraging them through hard times.

The Pen Pal and Appreciation Club is a student-run organization on campus that writes and sends letters to different groups of people who are enduring problems or in need of encouragement. These letters contain uplifting messages written by club members that are specific to the people and groups they send them too.

When these letters are sent, the people on the receiving end are able to write back to the club and its members, potentially establishing friendships and bonds with the students who sent them.

“I’ve had pen pals for many years, as far back as third grade,” science teacher and club sponsor Branden Davis said. “I’ve always loved the idea of reaching out to communities and bringing people together. Luckily, these two students came up and asked me if we could make that a reality.”

The idea for the club came about in 2022 when juniors Aaron Miller and Charleigh Shackford were inspired by other pen pal projects that they saw on social media. With the belief that starting a club dedicated to this at MSD would help students socialize, get to know people better and make a positive change in the world, they decided to make it happen. Once they had a vision, they proposed the idea to Davis and in the fall of 2023, the club was officially formed and quickly gained members.

“Aaron and I really both wanted to do something to connect the community,” Shackford said. “I’m a huge writer and I have a lot of online friends, so being able to converse with people in a non-digital format is a lot of fun. So, we thought that this would be fun for people who are looking for a community to do.”

So far, the Pen Pal and Appreciation club has written to people residing in senior living homes and local elementary school students learning how to read and write.

As well, the club currently has a pen pal connection in France, and members are writing letters to French students trying to learn the English language. Members of the club have noticed that over the course of their time sending letters to them, the students’ English skills have drastically improved. They are now asking complex questions in their letters, which are usually too advanced for people who have only recently started learning the language.

“Being able to help people feels really good,” Miller said. “Even right now, we’re at a collaboration meeting with another club, and it feels amazing being able to bring two groups together to make this [international pen pals] a reality.”

The Pen Pal and Appreciation Club hopes to be a beacon of hope for those in need, with its members looking to prove that their generation is capable of making waves in the world and changing it for the better. The Pen Pal and Appreciation Club serves as a reminder that sometimes the most profound connections are formed through the stroke of a pen.

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About the Contributor
Luke Dautruche, Reporter
Luke Dautruche is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He enjoys playing Oboe, skateboarding, going to the gym and listening to music.
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