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Linda Mah
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Special Delivery: President Obama Writes

Lincoln CIS Students Write the White House

Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo youth development worker Patricia Atkins has had her students write President Barack Obama before, hoping for a response.

Then, in the fall, as time was winding down on his term in office, she gathered her after-school program students at Lincoln International Studies School for one more letter writing session to thank him for his service to the country.

She added a brief note to the letters before she popped them in the mail. “Could you please respond to them? It would mean so much to our students.”

Atkins was on medical leave, when she got a call from the school office earlier this year. She had a package from the White House. She told them to open it, but they said they’d wait until she returned. She could open it with her students. The students were thrilled.

“I never thought we were going to get a letter back,” said Ciara Smith.

“I was more surprised than ever because I didn’t know he’d write,” said Natasha Vega.

When they opened the package, they found a note from President Obama, a photo of the president, and one of him with First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, and the family dogs Bo and Sunny.

His note said, “Wherever your talents and interests take you, always remember that nothing is beyond your reach so long as you are willing to dream big and work hard. America is depending on students like you to build a brighter tomorrow, and I know there are no limits to what you can achieve.”

He closed out the letter saying, “Thank you, again, for your kind note. Your generation gives me great hope for the future, and I trust you’ll stay engaged in our democracy.”

Other students in Lincoln’s CIS program wrote President Obama as well, but Atkins’ group was the only one to receive a reply. 

The letter and photos have been shared with the other students, but Atkins’ class feels a special pride in the response.

 “I was so excited,” said Victoria Williams. “It’s something I’m going to treasure forever.”

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