Monday, November 23, 2015

Putting My Stamp On The Address Dilemma

It's that time of year again- college recommendation season! Already, I have recommended five of our youngsters for acceptance into numerous and hallowed institutions of higher learning. There is now what is called a Common Application where you only have to do a checklist/impressions on a student one time and they can send it to whatever university they choose. When I do a formal recommendation, I type it and Jennifer Zalud who runs our copy room puts it on WCS letterhead and makes it look very official. Over the years, I've written so many of these that I can hammer out a good letter quickly while making our young scholars a must-have for any admissions department and do so truthfully. It really is an honor just to be asked. 

There is a protocol involved in the process. Often, the recommendations come with waivers, having the youngsters give up any right to see what was said about them by the recommender. I have my own criteria for privacy. I won't let the recommendee view any checklist or rating scale but I will have them read the letter I penned and let them make suggestions which they never do. The general rule of thumb is that the kids will bring a stamped addressed envelope to the college and I will sign over the seal, showing there has been no tampering. That's where it has become interesting this fall. The rest of this is going to be ANONYMOUS although I'm confident my students mentioned below would take no offense!

It started two weeks ago when I told a young man he needed to bring me stamped envelopes for his applications. He immediately asked, "Where do I buy a stamp?" I was dumbfounded so I replied I thought his folks would have both stamps and envelopes at the house. He didn't think so. I was telling this in the office soon after and the staff was giggling but a young lady who is an aide and might be valedictorian asked,  "Well, where do you get one?" We teased her and she laughed with us. She had a thought it might be the Post Office but she wasn't convinced. So, just on a hunch, I asked my seventh period Gospels' class, a bunch of bright juniors, how much a postage stamp cost. The first guess was ten cents and most of them were in that neighborhood. I told them that was the price forty years ago and they seemed shocked when I informed them of the current 49 cent price tag. But the story gets better. The day we left for Thanksgiving, another senior brought me the eight letters I had penned for her along with the envelopes for me to sign. She had addressed the first one....... but she put the address of the university in the upper right corner where the stamp goes. In a move never taught in teacher training, I took a blank envelope and showed her the proper method. I think she gets it now.

Right off the bat here, let me assure you I don't think this is alarming. The kids I mentioned are terrific students who besides excelling in academics are amazing in electronics, drama and music, athletics, and leadership. They also are products of very high achieving families! They will bless any campus upon  their enrollment. (If we turn it around, they find it unbelievable I can't set the margins on my Word notes or change a ringtone on my cell phone.) This is the point: No one has taught them these things. Letters are rarely dropped in mail boxes anymore so the skill is not as necessary as in the good old days of the 1990s. I do think there is a spiritual application, though. How do we expect anyone to know about the Lord unless those teachings are passed on? Common Bible knowledge isn't common anymore. Bible scholarship isn't common anymore. Paul put the responsibility on the shoulders and or feet of the believers in verse 14 of Romans 10:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
How would my students know about Jesus unless someone took the time to explain Him in a kind and understandable way? You don't learn how to address an envelope by osmosis. The same is true for knowing our Savior. This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful my parents taught me about Jesus....... and how to send a letter.

Applicable quote of the day:

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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