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Dear Mr. President: Local students pen letter to Obama

BRADENTON — “Dear President Obama ...”

The letters are short and to the point, focused on hot button issues like war and the economy, yet definitely unlike any correspondence to cross his Oval Office desk to date.

They’re in pencil and illustrated with stick figures in crayon.

Nevertheless, Obama should take these letters seriously.

So what if the 20 first-graders in 1A at St. Joseph Catholic School aren’t old enough to vote.

“I wish you would stop the wars,” wrote Velencia Scialdone, who drew sad faces with “War” and happy faces with “Peace.”

“I wish you would feed the poor,” wrote Tia Wingate, who drew sad people.

“We have too much pollution,” wrote Kaitlyn Schafer, who drew a happy sun with glasses. Or was it shades?

Either way Jeanne Gerken’s students got their messages across, and the letters will be mailed to the White House any day.

“We hope the president takes the things we talked about, worried about and wrote about and tells us what he’s going to do about them,” said Gerken, who has taught 17 years at the school. “We want an answer.”

The letters coincide with the 36th annual Catholic Schools Week’s theme: Catholic Schools Celebrate Service.

“It connects with the whole idea of looking at what’s going on in our nation, the crisis we’re in,” Gerken said. “They truly do understand what the country is going through right now. They feel it.”

Most letters touched on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Wars can kill so many poor people,” Katherine Mavis wrote.

“Wars are not very good,” Brett Fehr wrote.

“I wish you would make peace,” Paul Bright wrote, adding, “You are so cool.”


“Because he’s Barack Obama,” the 6-year-old said.

The poor mattered as much as peace to the first-graders.

They see the lines most mornings outside St. Joseph’s food pantry.

“We can help people have it better,” Tia Wingate wrote.

“People need food to eat so they don’t starve,” Stephen Romano wrote.

“Give homes to the homeless,” Michael Cucci wrote.

His parents remind the 6-year-old of his blessings when he doesn’t feel like finishing a meal.

“They always tell me to eat my food because the poor would like to eat what’s on my plate,” Michael said.

There were some novel ideas by the first-graders about Obama helping the economy.

Take Chaz Polis, who wrote, “I wish you would help our country make more money. I hope you have a good time making money.”

The 7-year-old meant exactly that.

“I think the president makes money on the computer,” Chaz said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification.