Searsmont Students Meet Pen Pals from “Down Under” 

Catherine Pegram

Students in Searsmont are using technology to connect to some far-away friends. Really far away – all the way “down under”.Since September third graders at Ames School in Searsmont have been writing back and forth to students at The Patch Primary School in Victoria, Australia. Emily Abbott says, “We ask them about themselves and about their families and what they look like and stuff.”They don’t have to wonder about that part anymore. The kids met their pen pals face to face for the first time this week in a video conference. Alexia Hopkins says, “I thought that it was pretty cool how we could actually see them.”Something else that was cool – the time difference between the classrooms. While the kids in Maine were eating dinner, the ones in Australia were enjoying breakfast. And when it comes to fun…”We play a different sort of football here. Do you you play grid iron there?”Teacher Karen Craig-Foley say the cross cultural relationship has taught these kids a lot of lessons.Riley Cox says, “I learned that writing is a fun thing to write, even to people far away.”Craig-Foley says, “They found that there were so many similarities. Not only in names. There were a lot of names that were similar. We had Rileys, we had Elis, we had different names. But they felt by sharing that they got to know how many brothers and sisters do you have, how many pets, what are the names of your pets.”Speaking of pets, they got some air-time in this pen pal exchange, too. Chloe Staples says, “Australia has bearded dragons and blue tongued lizards and we don’t have them.”Tommy Walker says, “They’re allowed to bring pets into school, which I would really like to do.”Maybe these kids aren’t like night and day after all.