PEN PALS - President Barack Obama recently responded to this class' letter, sent to the White House in April after a number of the students showed enthusiasm over the Presidential election. Sitting for a photo with their Pre-K teachers, Jamie Cambron (LEFT) and Rene Crouse, are (FRONT ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT) Maelee Allen (Bonnie), Madison Smith (Benton), Sadie Copple (Mt. Vernon), Carter Mick (Bonnie), Wyatt Brown (Valier) and Cort Wehr (Benton). (BACK ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT) are; Raina Matzker (Benton), Jac Seagle (Royalton), Brylee Sizemore (Pinckneyville), Nate Ragland (Sesser), Stella Furlow (Sesser) and Addi Darnell (DuQuoin). CLICK HEREfor a larger image. 

President Obama's letter offered words of encouragement and insipiration to the Pre-K students at the Rend Lake College Foundation Children's Center.CLICK HERE for a larger image. 

The reply came with an autographed photo of the President. CLICK HERE for a larger image. 

INA, Ill. – Pre-K students at the Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center recently gained a new pen pal with some Presidential pull.

A letter from the White House arrived in the mail last week. In it, President Barack Obama thanked them for writing to him back in April.

“We were really excited and shocked to hear back from the President,” said Head Pre-K Teacher Rene Crouse. “The kids were jumping up and down. ... We were honored that the White House took the time to respond to our letter and I think it meant a lot to the children that an autographed photo of the President was included.”

Crouse wrote to the President about the college and its Center. She included information about her class and how some showed their Obama support on campus before the election.

“The children became quite interested in you during the election process,” Crouse wrote. “I think they really liked the sound of your name. ... In fact, when we take walks around campus they often chant ‘OBAMA, OBAMA!’ ... They were very excited when you won the election. We did our own voting in our classroom and you will be happy to know that you won the Pre-K election as well.”

The idea to write to the President came about last year when a few students still showed interest after the election was decided.

“They were all talking about how their parents went to vote and who they voted for,” Crouse explained. “Nate Ragland and Remington Stevens were really interested in it. They kept asking questions about the President. They wanted to read books about him. They asked if he would ever come to our school or if they could ever talk to him. So, we decided to draw pictures and write him a letter. ... It was so cute. There were all kinds of smiley face stickers on the envelope. You couldn’t have missed it in the mail. We sealed it and we all went up to the post office to mail it. It was pretty neat.”

The letter also contained drawings from the children, inspired by the book “Yes We Can! A Salute to Children from President Obama’s Victory Speech.” The drawings illustrated different ways they can help others – from tying their shoes to being nice, and keeping the world clean to putting their toys away. Also included in the package was a Rend Lake College pen, magnet and bumper sticker, along with their personal messages to the President.

“I love Obama!” – Addi, 4

“Thank you for helping to make the world healthy.” – Nate, 5

“I’m happy you won the job of President because I think you will run the world good.” – Remington, 5

“I wish I could hug you.” – Raina, 5

“I want to help the whole world because I like to help people.” – Madison, 3

“You are awesome. Thank you for helping schools and kids.” – Stella, 4

“I have a dog named Bo too. I drew a picture of him for you.” – Nate, 5

“We’re kids. We like our school.” – Carter, 3

“We read books about you in Pre-K.” – Jac, 5

“I like school.” – Cort, 3

“I love apples because they are good. Do you like them?” – Brylee, 5

“Our school is fun. Maybe you can visit us sometime.” – Wyatt, 3

Although it didn’t answer Brylee’s inquiry about apples, nor was there any mention of an upcoming visit, the President’s reply did offer some encouraging words and inspiring thoughts about the future.

“Dear Students:” the letter reads. “I am always eager to hear from young Americans like you. Your thoughts on the issues facing our Nation are important to me, and your letters help me as I work to build a better tomorrow for your generation. You too have a role to play in shaping the future. I encourage you to work hard and dedicate your energy, talent, and creativity to improving your community and our country. Through academic achievement and service, you can achieve your highest dreams and help others do the same. Young people like you inspire me and give me great hope for the future. Thank you, again, for being in touch. The First Lady and I wish you all the best. Sincerely, Barack Obama.”

Crouse asked President Obama to remember these “future leaders of this great country” when considering funding for Early Childhood Education and Preschool for All.

Established on the Ina campus more than a decade ago, the RLCF Children’s Center is the only NAEYC accredited childcare facility in Jefferson, Franklin and Perry counties. The Center is open to all area residents and is a great asset to college students, staff and faculty with childcare needs. It has four classrooms for infants, toddlers and Pre-K, and school-age children can enroll in the summer. Parents benefit from a grant that provides a free half-day of care for Pre-K students, as well as other services and financial assistance available to parents in the area. In addition to being a high-quality childcare center, it duals as a learning lab for RLC students who want to go into teaching.

For more information about the Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center, CLICK HERE, go online under the “community” tab at www.rlc.edu, or call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1393.

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