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Student writes hundreds of emailed letters to classmates

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
Brooklyn Black, a freshman at Newton High School this semester, started an email writing effort to check on the mental health of her schoolmates.

Imagine the anticipation of freshman year — a new start in a new school building, and new friends to make.

Now take most of it away, because a pandemic means nearly 25% of the student body will attend online and the remainder of the students are split into groups for “hybrid learning.” Not to mention, part way through first semester the building becomes closed to students.

“Times are super hard right now and remote especially makes it hard to feel in touch with your peers,” said Brooklyn Black, a freshman at Newton High School.

Black is doing something about that by using the same technology that the school is using to deliver her and her classmates’ education this fall.

She began an email campaign to reach out to those in her class, trying to forge a connection with her schoolmates and check on their mental health.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone's questions were answered, that they were feeling OK about remote learning, and if there was any way I could help if they needed it,” Black said.

Black wrote 254 emails to her schoolmates.

Classmates would respond with their appreciation. She said it took her two days to write and respond to all of the emails — and she personalized every letter in a number of ways, including asking about sports they participated in, writing about classes she and her classmate were both in and seeing if they need help.

She also asked what she could do for them to make sure their mental health was in good condition.

“My goal was to make sure that every single one of my peers didn't have any trouble with remote learning,” Black said. “I wanted to make sure all of their questions were asked, and that their mental health was in good shape.”

She said up next are letters to Newton High School staff and administrators, as well as the principals of the other Newton USD 373 schools and the Newton USD 373 board members.