SIDE STREETS: Readers teach boys about Colorado, generosity

April 19, 2013
photo - John-Michael List displays books, photographs, postcards and souvenirs  sent to him by a Side Streets reader after he asked for help researching Colorado for a school paper. Photo by Courtesy Mary-Margaret Madden
John-Michael List displays books, photographs, postcards and souvenirs sent to him by a Side Streets reader after he asked for help researching Colorado for a school paper. Photo by Courtesy Mary-Margaret Madden 

Side Streets readers did it again!

Recently, I told you of requests we received from school boys in California and Nevada seeking information about Colorado to help them write research papers.

First came a note from Diego Lopez, a fifth-grade student at the Napa Valley Language Academy in Napa, Calif. Then came an email from John-Michael List, a fourth-grader from Carson City, Nev. Both asked for pamphlets, postcards and souvenirs to provide background for their reports about Colorado — our history, economy, famous residents and more.

This was a no-brainer for me. (And “no-brainer” pretty much describes me, don’t ya think?)

I published their requests, betting Gazette readers would gladly educate the boys.

I was right.

John-Michael’s mother, Mary-Margaret Madden, said they sent their email to The Gazette and nine other newspapers in Colorado. The only response outside of Colorado Springs was a box of Celestial Seasonings tea from Boulder.

“Everything came from Colorado Springs,” she said. “Everyone was so gracious.”

She detailed the windfall John-Michael received from the Springs. (Diego received similar donations.)

• Marlene LeFever sent photos of Colorado bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and antelope. In addition, she sent photos of aspen trees, whitewater rafting, the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine in Cripple Creek, scenic mountain photos and what Mary-Margaret described as “remnants of the Colorado Springs (Waldo Canyon) fire with some personal stories.”

• Shirley Bozung sent postcards of Glen Eyrie castle, the Royal Gorge, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame with its bronze sculpture of the rodeo cowboy called “The Champ.”

• Donald Toncray, who identified himself as a Springs native, wrote a letter highlighting the area’s attractions such as the Pioneers Museum and the Money Museum at the American Numismatic Association.

• Two books, “Cripple Creek Days” and “Pioneer Women,” came courtesy Michael Mlynarczyk.

• And the Air Force Academy sent each boy boxes of stuff.

“We sent them each an Academy coin, pen, info folder they could put their report in that has USAFA information, a school catalogue, several falcon cards (information on our mascot the falcon), a pennant, brochures and pamphlets about USAFA and a nice note wishing them luck with their report,” said David Cannon, academy communications director.

Both boys were impressed by the outpouring from Colorado Springs.

“I got a whole bunch of stuff from the U.S. Air Force Academy,” John-Michael told me, clearly impressed by the package. He also was interested to learn about Cripple Creek.

“I probably like the gold rush the best,” he said of what he learned.

Diego said he learned a lot from the response.

“Colorado has a lot of mountains,” he told me Thursday. “It also has a lot of canyons. And it snows a lot over there.”

Perhaps the best thing he learned is that he wants to visit Colorado someday.

“I’d like to come a lot,” Diego said.

His teacher, Nadia Torres, said only two other students received more from their states: Wyoming and Nevada.

“It’s a project we do every year,” she said. “Diego received a lot of responses.”

I was surprised to learn from Mary-Margaret that one of Diego’s classmates had inspired John-Michael’s note to The Gazette.

“We saw a letter in our paper from another student at the Napa Valley Academy seeking information about Nevada,” she said. “I told John-Michael we should do this. So we copied his letter. It made his project a lot more fun.”

It was no accident that they chose Colorado. Mary-Margaret is a native of Boulder.

And she is proud of her home state.

“I was totally surprised,” she said. “As stuff trickled in, John-Michael would come home every day and ask if he got something new. It was a big success. Thank you.”

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