When Geoffrey Craft, 4th grader at Clearfield Elementary, joined with his fellow students in a Flat Stanley project, he had no idea what type of response he would receive when he put his letter and his Flat Stanley in the mail in mid-December. When his response did come, though, several weeks later, the only words he was able to say when he saw the contents of the packet were, “Oh, gosh!” and “Wow!”
Flat Stanley is a children’s book that was written by Jeff Brown. It details the travels and adventures of a flat boy named Stanley Lambchop. To help students with their reading and writing skills and to encourage interest in geography, students can create their own Flat Stanley using a template provided by the Flat Stanley project. Once these characters have been decorated, students then choose an individual to whom they can send their Flat Stanley and request an account of their adventures during their visit.
Geoffrey Craft, son of Mike and Stephanie Craft, decided to go to the top, so to speak, when he opted to send his letter and Flat Stanley to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the home of President Barack Obama. When Geoffrey came to school on January 10, 2011, he was almost speechless when April Ratliff, counselor at Clearfield Elementary, read the letter to the entire school during morning announcements. Not only did Geoffrey receive a letter signed by President Obama, he also received an autographed picture of the President, an autographed picture of the President and First Lady with their daughters, two pictures of Bo, the President’s dog, and maps of the White House. Geoffrey was all smiles as he carefully looked over all the items in the packet and was notably impressed when Mrs. Ratliff pointed out the official seal of the President on the White House stationary. The text of the letter Geoffrey received from President Obama appears below:
Thank you for sending Flat Stanley to the White House. I am pleased to report that he worked hard, listened carefully, and had a lot of fun!
Your friend’s visit came at a time of great hope and opportunity for our Nation. He mentioned how much your class wanted to learn about what goes on at the White House, and I was happy to have him join me on my daily activities. In the morning, he walked with me through the halls of the West Wing and joined me for meetings in the Oval Office with my senior staff and many guests. Flat Stanley got a chance to tour the East Wing and study its beautiful rooms and artwork on display. At the end of the day, he came with me to the South Lawn and played catch with our dog, Bo, as the sun set over Washington, D.C. Of course, he also said hello to First Lady Michelle Obama. We always enjoy having visitors at the White House.
He told me how surprised he was by the important role reading, writing, math, and science all play in my job. As a lifelong student, and as President, I use these skills every day. I can tell you with certainty that whatever path you choose, the things you learn in school and the extra reading and exploration you do after school will always be helpful to you in your life.
Flat Stanley was engaging, interested, and showed up to the White House each morning with a pencil in hand, ready to learn. It was a pleasure to have him here. As I send him back to you, I urge you to bring that same thirst for knowledge to your classroom and passion for serving others to your community. Together, we will make America even better in years to come.