Students at Churchill Junior High School had high hopes this winter of starting a pen-pal relationship with a school in the Soviet Union. Now nobody knows if the school is still standing.

The first round of letters from the Churchill students still wait in large brown envelopes with addresses that tell the story: School No. 167, Yerevan, Armenia. The students were all set to mail the letters the day the earthquake hit.Although Yerevan was far enough from the epicenter to avoid devastating damage from the Dec. 7 quake, it will be a long time before life, and mail delivery, in the Armenian capital gets back to normal.

Churchill English and journalism teacher Marge Wilson would still like to send off her students' letters, but isn't sure whether they will ever arrive.

The letters are both universal and quintessentially American, full of hopes for peace and lists of favorite football teams. Some students included American coins; many included photos of their families and homes. The photos, however, proved a stumbling block; when the students first tried to mail the letters they were informed that official rules prohibit photos in letters bound for the Soviet Union.

The students still hope that their letters will find their way to Armenia. They want to learn about life there, especially now. And they want to establish a mutual understanding.

As Ame Berges wrote her in letter: "I hope our two countries shall never find a need to go to war. . . . I want my children to have a safe world to live in."