Residents from the Bethanie Elanora retirement village in Bunbury were treated to one of their first outings since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, heading out to meet a group of Year 1 and 2 students who became their pen pals earlier this year. The students, from the South West John Calvin Christian College in Capel, began writing to the residents in May as visits to retirement villages became limited. Students wrote stories and poems for their pen pals and also prepared a small gift to present to each of the residents. After her pen pal, Year 1 student Joel Bergsma mentioned his new baby sister, Bethanie resident Margie Milne crocheted a blanket to gift Joel’s family at the event. College deputy principal Laurence Van Der Plas said the relationship doubled as an excellent way to teach the kids the value of writing. “This was a perfect opportunity for our Year 1 and 2 students to practice their writing,” he said. “Writing is so much more meaningful for students when they have an audience, and the students were excited that the residents read and replied to their letters. Students handcrafted clay bowls, with the design of the bowl to reflect an interest of each resident. Year 1 and 2 teacher Laura Kim said it was important for the students to reach out to and connect with people in the community. “Writing letters to the elderly in our community was a way we could reach out to those who may be taking isolation harder than we were,” she said.