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 SRU student serving in Iraq keeps in contact with second-graders 




July 24, 2007

Contact: K.E. Schwab  




SRU student serving in Iraq keeps in contact with second-graders



SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "I have a dog. Do you have a dog?," "How are you? I am fine," and "I hope you are safe," − are some of the thoughts sent by Victory Elementary School second-graders to U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Wentling, a Slippery Rock University junior called to serve in Iraq, but keeping in touch with his hometown.

           The Victory Elementary students, part of the Franklin [Pa.] School District, were featured in a news report in The Derrick before school ended for summer. The Franklin newspaper reported students in Cinda Hammond's class attended a school board meeting to present a slide show of photos sent by Wentling and his unit to the students. The students also told of their correspondence. In addition to the letters, sent the old-fashioned way through the U.S. Postal Service, students include drawings and photos.

           Wentling's unit mailed the students a U.S. flag that had flown over their base in Iraq. The flag is now displayed at the school.

           Wentling is a former Victory student and 2003 Franklin High School graduate.

           Hammond said the project has been on going, with her students writing near the holidays to brighten their pen pal's spirits. "They write the typical things second graders think about, and many of them are very touching. Some have told Rich they are 'keeping him in their prayers,' others pointed out they were 'sorry he would not be home for Easter' and topics like that."

           "The soldier's return letters have been very informative as he tells about his job and living in Iraq," Hammond said. His letters are shared with other faculty and students at the school.

            Stationed in Iraq since September, Wentling is one of two members of the Franklin-based 298th Transportation Co., students at the school have been corresponding with during the year.

            Wentling's SRU e-mail account remains active. He can be contacted at:, but it may be some time before he is able to use a computer to make connections.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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