Letter writing pays off
Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 27, 2014
A riddle: What runs north and south and is bumpy when you cross it? Answer: The Canadian National railroad tracks that run through Edwardsburg.
That is, before the crossings were repaired in September, 2013. Prior to the repairs, second grade teachers Dannielle Swihart and Leigh Goyings drove over the tracks at the intersections of Conrad Road and US-12 each day on the way to Eagle Lake School.
No matter how slow she drove, Goyings felt like one of those baseball bobble heads she collects. That all changed when the teachers put the “power of the pen” into action.
“Students in second grade are expected to write a persuasive letter on an issue in the community,” explained Swihart. “So we decided to have our classes write to the railroad company.”
To prepare for the letter writing campaign, the two second grade classes were visited by a local car repairman, Tom Addison. They studied a diagram, looked at broken mufflers and struts and took notes about the cost of repairs that can be caused by rough tracks.
Then last March, each student wrote a letter to the track supervisor for CN to tell them about the problem and request repairs.
Kami wrote, “It was [so] bumpy I almost bounced out of my seat.”
The children cited problems about car repairs: “My grandpa’s exhaust came off,” complained Ruby.
The students waited a long time for a response to their letters, but were excited to see crews out repairing the tracks at both crossings last September.
Patrick Waldron, the manager for U.S. Public Affairs for CN wrote back to the students recently, telling them their “letters were very descriptive and effective in communicating the public concerns about the condition of the crossing.” He noted that dozens of repairs are completed each year in the Midwest …. for the benefit and safety of the motoring public. He also reminded children to stay safe by not walking or biking on the tracks.
“The tracks are a part of our daily life in Edwardsburg,” concluded Goyings. “We are fortunate to have a large company like CN take time to listen to complaints from the young citizens of our town.”
The students received a powerful lesson from this assignment.
Jake (a student) explained, “We wrote letters and then saw something done about it because the tracks used to be really bumpy but now they aren’t.”