Third graders at St. Rose Grammar School in Belmar on Thursday said bon voyage to a cartoon cutout embarking on a months-long journey around the country.
The 11th annual send-off for "Flat Stanley,'' the main character in a children's book of the same name, took place Thursday as pupils of Mrs. Mary Burns' third grade class walked from the 6th Avenue school to the Belmar Post Office to mail out their Flat Stanley replicas.
Each of the students crafted their own Flat Stanley and mailed it to the first of a string of friends and relatives who will escort the cut-out around their communities before sending Stanley to the next person on the list. Each student will track their character on its trek before it gets mailed back after the first of the year, Burns said.
The project is a multi-disciplinary exercise that encompasses reading and writing, geography and civics into one long lesson, Burns said. Each child will have a map to track where their Stanley has gone throughout his journey. When Stanley returns, pupils will read in his journal where he had been and what he had seen along the way.
"It's for them to be able to write in their journals, for them to see what other communities are like throughout the United States and that may be different than we may experience here in Belmar,'' Burns said.
The book, written by Jeff Brown, is a perennial favorite of elementary school teachers across the country. The main character, Stanley Lambchop, gets flattened by a fallen bulletin board and uses his newfound two-dimensional shape to solve a major crime in town. One of the main advantages to Stanley's altered state is that he can be mailed in an envelope to his friends, making travel easy.
Burns' students were required to read the book over the summer. During the first weeks of school, pupils completed a variety of exercises based around the book, culminating in Stanley's send off.