The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

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Russian to make friends

WHHS+and+AWL+student+participants+of+the+Russian+Pen-Pal+Project+stand+on+the+steps+of+the+Blair+Circle+entrance.+As+they+stood%2C+it+began+to+snow+on+the+group.
Carolina Tollefson
WHHS and AWL student participants of the Russian Pen-Pal Project stand on the steps of the Blair Circle entrance. As they stood, it began to snow on the group.

For the past four months, Russian students at WHHS and The Academy of World Languages have been working together on the Pen-Pal Project. The program involves Russian students of both schools communicating with each other through letters written in Russian and English.

On March 8,  the AWL students met their WHHS pen-pal partners in person for the first time and indulged in Russian culture and team-building activities. 

“We had all kinds of Russian candies and foods that we made, along with Russian dances, songs, and poetry,” Hart-Thompkins, a Russian teacher at WHHS, said. “Then, students spoke to each other in Russian.”

The AWL students who attended the field trip were mainly in sixth grade and were treated to a comprehensive tour of WHHS. This tour gave the students insight into where they could spend the next phase of their education.

“First, they were kind of timid, [but] as they got to see the facilities and talk to our students [they] started to really like it here,” Hart Tompkins said. “We are trying to get a lot of students that maybe thought this school was out of reach to retake or take the [entry] test.”

After the tour, the pen-pals participated in activities that revolved around Maslenitsa, a Russian holiday welcoming the arrival of spring. Carolina Tollefson, ‘24, finds the activities improved her bond with her AWL counterpart.

“We made yarn dolls and bracelets, played some games, sang songs and recited poetry to celebrate the arrival of spring,” Tollefson said. 

Along with activities, the pen-pals appreciated Russian culture through cuisine as well. Russian culinary culture is a blend of Asian and Eastern European Cuisine. 

“We had food items that you would find in someone [Russian’s] pantry or out on the counter or a snack,” Seth Luebke, ’24, said. “We tried to present to them something that is not necessarily a full lunch but enough to get a plate, sit down and munch while you go through activities.”

Although many aspects of the meeting went well, this is the first year of the Pen-Pal Project between AWL and WHHS, which leaves the program with room for improvement. 

A lot of them said they liked the school but were not necessarily having fun with the entire situation, and to be fair, they were thrust into a new environment,” Luebke said. “This has never been done before and so there is no set precedent.  Overall, they did like the school and the donors, but not [the level of] enjoyment  we were looking for.”

The Russian department will have the opportunity to improve as it plans to make the Pen-Pal Project an annual event. Though the meeting was not perfect, students and faculty made memories that will last a lifetime. For Hart-Thompkins, the most significant memory was the final picture of the group.

“We said our farewells and took a group picture on the stairs, and as we took the picture, it started to snow,” Hart Thompkins said. “Children were catching snowflakes, and it was so appropriate for Russia, where it gets so cold.”

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About the Contributor
Axel Kindel
Axel Kindel, News and Features Writer
In his second year as a Chatterbox staff member, Axel Kindel, '26, is ready to work as a writer in News and Features. His goal is to learn more about the journalistic process and produce quality work. Kindel is a sophomore who plans to attend college after high school. When not at school he enjoys trying new things, playing sports, and reading.
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