MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. - If the presidential election was decided by students and faculty at Van Cortlandtville Elementary School, there's no doubt President Barack Obama would win in a landslide, thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama's recent contact with the school.
Students at the kindergarten through fifth grade school wrote letters to Mrs. Obama in the late fall telling her about their edible education garden and outdoor classroom, where they harvest fresh vegetables, and creative cafe, where they learn healthy recipes and have held salad and soup days.
Much to their surprise, librarian Kathleen Furman received a letter dated April 27 on White House stationary from the First Lady, who has made exercise and healthy eating one of her major initiatives.
"I was so excited to hear about all the ways your class is learning to eat healthily," Mrs. Obama wrote. "As First Lady, one of my missions is to make sure kids across our country get active and stay healthy. We are going to need everyone working together to achieve this goal, so I urge you to join us online at www.LetsMove.gov, where you can stay updated on news and share your success stories with us. We need your ideas, your hands, and your heart to lead us to a brighter, healthier tomorrow.
"So keep up the good work, stay active in your community, and know that everything you need to accomplish your dreams is inside you. With the right attitude you can do anything!" Obama concluded.
Principal Jacqueline Woodruff said there was never any expectations the school would hear from the First Lady, who also sent a family photo.
"You always hope. This was personalized. She wrote to my kids," Woodruff said. "It was just a wonderful feeling. The kids were thrilled. Each teacher read the letter to their class."
The edible education garden, where students grow corn, peas, carrots, radishes and other vegetables, was made possible through a grant from the Lakeland Education Foundation.
"Each class had a different role," Woodruff said. "One of the goals here at our school is healthy eating and making good choices."