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Students create a post office

May 15, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The 25 members of the Montgomery Elementary School Stamp Club celebrated the club's 20th anniversary last week by setting up a real post office in their fourth-grade classroom.

With the help of the U.S. Postal Service, the kids canceled stamps and a new cover that they designed themselves.

They also designed and built a special entrance to the classroom by converting a cardboard refrigerator crate into a street mailbox. They painted it blue and lined the inside with letters.

Paul Kolvar Jr., a fourth-grade teacher and stamp club advisor, said the club members change every year as the fourth-graders move on to the fifth grade and the third-graders move up to fourth grade.

"We usually start off the year with 35 kids and it drops down to about 25" who become active members, he said.

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Kolvar, a stamp collector since he was 7, started the club in 1980. It meets weekly in his fourth-grade classroom. "We discuss stamps, the hobby and what goes into it," he said.

The club goes on field trips like the one it took recently to the regional post office in Harrisburg, Pa. Kolvar also brings in speakers to talk about stamp collecting.

The club ends the year with a show like the one held on Friday.

"What they learn in the club can't be measured on an achievement test," Kolvar said. "They learn about history, geography, an appreciation for art, mathematics and graphic design and literature."

He said the club members learn the value of money by reading stamp catalogues that also tell them how much their collections are worth. They learn creative writing when they write letters to pen pals in a student stamp club in England.

They also learn how to mount and protect their collections, Kolvar said.

Nearly 20 members designed and wrote reports on a variety of subjects for the year-end show. The topics ranged from dinosaurs to famous Americans, sports figures and space to Disney. The reports included stamps about the subject and a brief essay.

School Principal Philip Shuman said the stamp club gives students an opportunity to develop a hobby they can keep for life. "It teaches them organization, leadership and creativity," he said.

The 20th anniversary also gave club member Kris Potter, 10, an opportunity to be postmaster in the Mercersburg Post Office for a day.

"I had to write an essay on why I wanted to be postmaster," he said. He said he entered the competition because he wanted to learn how the post office sorts mail for the different houses.

Potter, who designed the cover that was canceled on Friday, said his parents and sister collect stamps.

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