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One class is hoping for mail this Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2024

Ava White, News Reporter

While most people hope for flowers and chocolates on Valentines Day, some kids in Koyuk, a village of about 300 people in the northwest Arctic, are hoping for mail.

Heather Swanson’s first grade class at Koyuk Malimiut School has been learning about geography through an interactive project with hopes to receive postcards from all 50 states.

Koyuk is about 130 miles northeast of Nome and is only accessible by boat or plane. Swanson said this makes it difficult for her students to understand the concept of states and countries because of the village’s remote location.

“Especially in Alaska, where we don’t have any states that immediately border our state, it’s hard to understand the concept of what a state is,” she said.

It’s part of a project called “Heart’s around the USA,” that helps students learn geography. Swanson said the class has also been working on a lesson called “Celebrate America”, that focuses on learning U.S. symbols and developing the concepts of countries and states.

The timing of the two lessons lined up perfectly, she said.

“The farthest away, it’s Hawaii,” she said. “One that was really neat was we got one from a high school student council in South Dakota.”

The class has received cards from about 30 states so far.

Swanson shared a post on her Facebook page last month asking out-of-state friends and family to send postcards to her class. That post has been shared nearly 100 times since and Swanson said the majority of postcards the class has received have been from strangers.

“It’s just so exciting to see how many people are willing to participate in this project and help our class learn about the different states,” she said.

Swanson said when letters arrive the students gather to identify the state on the classroom map. After learning a few facts about the state, students then write the name of the state, the sender’s name, alongside a heart.

Swanson said the project has brought a lot of love to her classroom. Her students think so, too.

“Thank you for giving us Valentines Day Cards!”


After Valentine’s Day, she said each student will get to choose and keep a postcard.

Photo at top: Heather Swanson’s first grade class smiles with their cards. (Courtesy Heather Swanson)

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