Nicole Coronado’s fourth grade students at Camp Sawyer Elementary School wrote essays as a literacy project. The essays didn’t sit on their desks, however. Students mailed them to important community members or influential people in the field of their essay topic.

Vinny Mayberry wrote an essay about the skill and drive required to be a good wrestler. He sent his essay and a letter to ISU wrestler Kyven Gadsen.

Vinny had heard Gadsen tell an interviewer after winning a big wrestling meet, that the thing he was most excited about was getting ice cream. Vinny ended his letter to Gadsen asking if Gadsen got his ice cream.

On Friday, April 7, Gadsen surprised Vinny and the class with a visit. He also brought ice cream.IMG_2205

Vinny said, “I didn’t know he was going to come see me! I was really happy he took time off his training to see me and the class. I really look up to him!”

Coronado said it’s important for students to see the real world purposes for any assignment they do in class.

“When we wrote our essays, I asked the students to think of who they would like to read them,” she said. “Many students chose workers at animal shelters, family members, and famous athletes. We mailed out all the essays but didn’t know if we would get many responses. When Gadsen showed up at school, I knew the students, especially Vinny, would be thrilled to see their essays did make an impact. It is moments like this that make learning fun!”

Gadsen spoke to the class about the importance of hard work and dedication, Coronado said.

“He was preparing to compete in an Olympic trial the Sunday after visiting and told the class he loves to eat ice cream, but when he is training he knows he has to watch what he eats, even if it is hard,” she said. “Although he couldn’t enjoy ice cream, he brought some for the class to enjoy.”