When Huntley High School Medical Academy teacher Renae St. Clair started a Pen Pals program with senior citizens living in Del Webb’s Sun City, she had hoped it would be a valuable opportunity for students to build their communication skills during a time when face-to-face conversation with strangers wasn’t possible.

The result was more than she could have hoped for, with 62 volunteers from Sun City exchanging more than 500 letters with students over the past year. It’s not just the quantity of correspondence that is striking, but the depth of the relationships that have been formed. Despite the pals being separated both physically, never having met in person, and generationally, with an average age difference of half a century, St. Clair said the participants have in many cases become true friends.

“I did not expect it on this scale. Honestly, they are impacting each other’s lives,” she told My Huntley News.

“It’s not surface level anymore,” said HHS senior Faith Doy. “We’re into the deep stuff, to the point when something happens, I’ve got to write my pen pals.”

Read more about the success of the program at myhuntleynews.com.