For years, students at Lozano Elementary School have been raising the spirits of enlisted men and women by writing to them during the holiday season.
The project began three years ago, when Lozano principal Terri Campos read a suggestion from the Illinois Superintendent of Education that students send holiday letters to soldiers.
“Our students are simply a joy,” said Campos, “so I knew they would like the idea of bringing their spirit and happiness to the troops.”
This year, the letter writing campaign took on a personal tone, with Lozano students supporting one of their own. Fourth-grader Jorge Ipina has a brother, Marine Corporal Juan Ipina, currently stationed in Virginia, and a cousin, Lizandro Lopez, now serving in Kuwait. Because of this local connection, students school wide sent holiday letters directly to the men and women in these units.
“It brings the students great joy to know that they are making others feel special during this season,” said Principal Campos. “Word has it that the troops have received our well wishes and that this has made their day a little brighter.”
The letters were one of several holiday projects for this Wicker Park School, which places a high priority on student voice and service.
“We’re more than 90 percent low income,” said Principal Campos, “but still nearly every student brought in items for the holiday food drive. They want to feel that internal good feeling that comes from giving to others, and we want them to experience that feeling.”
Because according to Principal Campos, that “good feeling” leads to positive outcomes like strong citizenship and the desire to impact the community.
“These activities put the fire in them to give something back,” she said. “And that’s what gives them the good feeling. And when they feel good, they do good work, academically and socially.”