Celebrate the Garden State!

Let’s face it—this will not be a normal school year for many of our students. At the very least, school calendars will have to be adjusted while other communities deal with the more serious challenges of Sandy’s devastation.

Celebrate New JerseyCelebrate NJ’s Executive Director Karen Hatcher wants to remind educators about two programs that can help young people re-establish a sense of place and belonging amidst so much dislocation and disruption.

“At this unique time in New Jersey history, we can create an opportunity for our children to feel more connected to each other, to their own hopes and dreams, and to the place they call home,” Hatcher believes.

Celebrate NJ is a nonprofit organization that offers curriculum-based writing programs to all New Jersey schools at no fee.

The Classroom Connection pen pal program for grades 2-5, provides students the opportunity to write letters to students in another part of New Jersey throughout the school year. The writing topics allow students to explore feelings and thoughts about themselves, the place they live, their hopes, challenges, and more. So far, more than 200 classes have signed up and matching is open through the end of the year. For more information, visit www.theclassroomconnection.com.

The New Jersey Scoop writing contest invites fourth graders to research and write about a favorite New Jersey person, place, attraction, or historical event for our annual publication. This writing process could allow students to pay tribute to special places or recognize heroes in our midst, and is a great way to celebrate all that we love about the Garden State. Details, teacher guides, and registration information are available at www.CelebrateNJ.org.

“Many teachers understand that one of the best ways to process these experiences is by writing about them,” explains Hatcher. “Putting pencil to paper can often be the best way for children to express what they find hard to say. “

Interested educators may find more information at CelebrateNJ.org or by calling 732-339-8178.