When fourth grade tacher Chris Albrecht had his students write letters and put them to sea in bottles last November, he didn’t really expect to get any letters back.
“I was blown away,” Albrecht told the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester of his reaction to an email last week from a 25-year-old in Terceira, a tiny fishing village on the Azores archipelago off Portugal more than 2,500 miles away.
“My brother and my father (woke) up earlier today and went to sea to catch a seafood very common here and found a bottle with a message from a boy Curtis Kipple,” Ana Ponte wrote in his email to the Hill School.
Kipple, who was 10, and his classmates at the Fred W. Hill School in Adams Basin, N.Y., stuffed their letters into bottles, sealed them gave them to a fisherman who dropped them into the Atlantic off of North Carolina’s Outer Banks in March.
“It took the students a month to write the letters, and when the project was done, I didn’t think anything of it,” Albrecht told the paper of what he saw as simply an “innovative language arts project” for his students.
Albrecht shouldn’t have been too surprised to learn Kipple’s letter had been found, however, given the school’s track record with sending messages out to sea.
In June, student Adam VerSteeg’s bottle was found on the beach in Clam Harbour, Nova Scotia, closer to the school but nonetheless remarkable.
“The incredible part to this story is not just two bottles have been found,” Amy Stoker, a fellow fourth-grade teacher at the Hill School told the Democrat and Chronicle. “But that the two people who found them took the time to contact us. It’s incredibly exciting.”
Kipple, now a fifth-grader, said his letter contained information on his hobbies, playing video games, and favorite sport, football.
The Ponte family in Portugal will learn more about Kipple’s hobbies, and those of his fellow classmates, since the school plans to continue communication with their newfound pen pals.
“The project exceeded my wildest expectations,” Albrecht said. “About 80 percent of my students have never seen the ocean. That Curtis’s bottle made it across the Atlantic Ocean is pretty amazing.”