By Jann Wiswall
Second graders at Ellicottville Elementary School have been learning about persuasive writing. One assignment was to write a letter to a member of the community asking for a favor.
Teacher Leah Klahn asked her class who they wanted to write to. They chose Village Mayor Charlie Coolidge. The class then decided that each would ask the Mayor to build or make something for the community.
Last week, 15 letters landed on the mayor’s desk. Several letters asked the mayor to open a pet store. One argued a pet store is needed “because some kids don’t have pets…. They can be happy with their new pets because animals will love them.” Another thought a pet store would encourage kids to “exercise when their pets run around…to make the kids in our town more healthy.” A third thought if the store offered pets for “$20, more people will come to our town and shop at all the stores.”
Another student made an argument for an aquarium. Another for an amusement park. Another for a football stadium. Another asked the mayor to open a Chinese restaurant, and another wants him to open a video game store.
One thought a costume store would be great, especially for “people who might want to do plays.” Another lobbied for an American Girl Doll store “so we don’t have to drive to New York City.” One thought getting a lot of ‘Juggle Bubbles’ for the village park program would be a good idea because “Juggle Bubbles are a safe toy.”
Others argued convincingly for building a pool with a huge diving board, a giant hamburger, a voice controlled hotel and the biggest pizza in the world.
All students were required to include reasons for their suggestions, and most cited fun as an important reason. But there were others noted that were, perhaps, more insightful than one would expect from seven- and eight-year-olds: reasons such as growing the economy, attracting tourists, increasing employment opportunities, improving health, helping their parents and enhancing people’s quality of life.
Now as most people know, when you write to a government official, you don’t always get a response, but Coolidge knows good ideas when he sees them. Each student received a personalized letter from the mayor – to the students’ delight.
Of course, the mayor couldn’t promise to fulfill all of their requests, so it may be up to each student to work toward their goals over the next couple of decades.
But, as Coolidge said, it is nice to see that “young people really do care about the future of Ellicottville.”