Second-graders from Randi Orr’s class sent an art project named “Flat Stanley” to the White House last month, and a few weeks later, President Barack Obama wrote back that he took it with him throughout his daily activities.
“They were very excited. The president only responds to about 15 letters a day,” said Orr, a teacher at Centennial Arts Academy.
The children’s project was based on the 1964 book “Flat Stanley” by Jeff Brown. The lead character, Stanley, is
accidentally flattened in his sleep and visits his friends by being mailed in an envelope.
The project became an international phenomenon in the 1990s, as children began crafting their own paper Stanleys. The art pieces are mailed to various locations to teach young people about geography and letter writing.
Orr said her students dispatched Stanleys across North America, including to California, Alabama and Mexico, where many of the students are from. A few of the recipients included family members, friends and staff at Nickelodeon Studios in Florida.
It was 7-year-old Sunshine Mize who mailed her Stanley to the White House, Orr said.
In his letter, President Obama said he treated Stanley as a visiting guest. He wrote that the cutout joined him in a meeting in the Oval Office; playing catch with the Obamas’ dog, Bo; and during other functions
“Flat Stanley was engaging, interested, and showed up to the White House each morning with a pencil in hand, ready to learn,” according to the letter. The White House package was complete with an autographed photo of the president and a photo of Bo.
Mize said she was happy to learn Stanley had fun at the White House and she was shocked by the letter.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” she said. “I was psyched.”
The letter will be framed and displayed in the front office, Orr said. The students also were honored at Monday’s Gainesville school board meeting.