THE EVENT

Classes: Cherry Hamrick's third grade (with support from the whole school)Subject: Patriotism

Number of students: 40

When the United States and its allies went to war in the Middle East, it was a confusing time for many children. Hamrick helped her third-graders to understand the war and their own ability to be supportive citizens by writing to U.S. military personnel in the area.

The students "adopted" Cpl. Boyd D. Casady, whose address was supplied by his mother, a Sandy resident. For "seven months and two days," while he discharged his duty in the Persian Gulf, the students sent letters on an average of twice a month.

THE SCHOOL

Location: 4130 W. 9580 South

Students: 1,150, kindergarten through sixth grade

Number of teachers: 45

Principal: Kirk Denison

School district: Jordan

THE LEARNING

The teacher hopes the students learned:

By corresponding with a local Marine, the Welby students gained a greater understanding of the conflict in the Middle East and the role of American soldiers, Hamrick said.

For Casady, the letters were a little piece of home in a foreign setting. "They talked about snow, the mountains, pizza dinners - the things that I missed," said Casady.

Monday, Welby literally blossomed with yellow balloons and ribbons to welcome the school's hero home. Even clusters of daffodils unwittingly added to the atmosphere.

In the school multipurpose room, a whole rainbow of balloons waved a welcome and children, arms locked, circled Casady to sing "The Rainbow Connection." Then several delegates from the class presented formal messages and hugged the Marine, who wore his dress uniform.

After cutting a yellow plastic ribbon from a young pine tree - a ribbon that had been carefully guarded by the third-graders all winter as they waited for their serviceman to return from Saudi Arabia - he thanked the youngsters.

The homecoming at Welby was "overwhelming," he said. "I didn't think I was doing anything spectacular over there. I just went out and sat in the desert and got shot at. Your letters made a big difference to me. I looked forward to them." Casady was involved in the capture of some Iraqi soldiers. Now he will spend a couple of weeks at home, then return to Camp Pendleton, Ore., to help repair and refurbish tanks that saw hard use during the war.

What the children learned:

Even little citizens can help keep the country's morale high during a crisis.

"In one of his letters to us, he said he was promised to go home, then he had to stay there," said Jonathan Harrison. Jonathan said that when he wrote to Cpl. Casady, he asked "how do you feel down there?" Throughout his stay at the school, the Casady was continuously surrounded by students, some off them highly emotional, who wanted to thank him for serving them and their country.

The Deseret News will publish weekly a feature on school activities. Call Chuck Gates, 237-2100.