The Gleaner

MWCN pen pal projects bridge language and age barriers

Around 60 students in Grades 5 and 6 from Heritage Elementary and École Notre-Dame elementary school in Huntingdon met in Prince-Arthur Park on May 21, to close out a pen pal activity they have been participating in over the past several months.

The pen pals were matched as part of a Montérégie West Community Network initiative to bring the students together. The English-speaking students from Heritage practiced their French reading and writing skills, while those attending the French school wrote in English.

Nadya Kovacs, an outreach and program coordinator with the MWCN’s Huntingdon office, spearheaded the project. A graduate of École Notre-Dame, she was inspired to start this project after having participated in a similar exercise in school. She explained that while the project was designed to improve literacy skills, the idea of building a connection and larger sense of community between the students was equally important.

The meeting in the park was the first time the pen pals met in person. Many were shy at first, but eventually they began to mingle. “It was very nice,” said Heritage French teacher Cecile Doucet. She noted that her students became very engaged with the project once they realized they would receive mail in return.


Students in Grades 5 and 6 at Heritage Elementary School and École Notre Dame met in person for the first time at Prince Arthur Park in Huntingdon on May 21 The students have been writing to each other as pen pals for months PHOTO Sarah Rennie


“It’s been going really well,” said Julie Doucet, who teaches English as a second language at Notre-Dame. She also benefitted from a pen pal experience while in school. “It’s a new generation of kids, and you never know how they will engage with these types of projects, but I was surprised,” she added.

CVR pen pals

A second pen pal initiative led by the MWCN also ended on May 21 with an in-person meeting at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, where students have been corresponding with community members over several months.

Kovacs explained that this project had many of the same objectives as the initiative with the younger students. She confirmed that it was just as successful in terms of building and reinforcing a sense of belonging and community for all participants.

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