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Second-grade students at St. John's School in Vermillion show off their "Flat Me's" In the front row from left to right are Charlie Endres, Molly Barker, Julia Kurzawski, Emma Marthaler, Josie Biermaier and Hally Frandrup. In the back are Lukas Hanson, Hayden Otto, Faith Reinardy, Ben Kaiser, Taylor Rodgers (holding the books), Daniel Peters, Grace Sieben and John Braun.

Vermillion students send flat versions of themselves around the country

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In the book, "Flat Stanley," Stanley was flattened by a bulletin board and sent through the mail on a variety of adventures.

Likewise, the "flat" versions of the 14 second-grade students at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Vermillion have had their share of adventures through the area, the country, and beyond - one went to Germany. And all within a matter of weeks.

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The Flat Stanley books originated with author Jeff Brown. St. John's second-grade teacher Maria Therres was familiar with the books and when she started teaching at the school, she introduced the books to her students. She also introduced the now-popular project.

"I use it for studying reading, geography, cultures, climate," said Therres. "I created my own project when we read the books."

For the project, each student creates his/her own paper versions of themselves and colors it with markers. The paper "Flat Me's" are then placed in a thin protective plastic covering.

For some students, decorating their "Flat Me's was simple.

"I looked in the mirror and did it that way," said Daniel Peters.

Some of the "Flat Me's" show individual personalities, including likes and dislikes.

This "new" version of the students went home with them over the Christmas holidays. They decided where to send them. They went to other family members and friends. Each package contained a letter describing the projects and asking the recipient to take "Flat Me" along with them, then "capture" that adventure in pictures, maps or verse. Many of the recipients then made memory books for their new friends. They were to be returned by this past week - Catholic Education Week.

"All I asked the students was to send them out of state," said Therres.

And they did - to South Dakota, Michigan, Florida (more than one), Tennessee, North Carolina, Mexico and Germany. One got lost in the mail, not once but twice. A new version was sent and received.

Julia Kurzawshi's family was originally from Germany. She was born there, but had no memories of the area.

She has much more knowledge about it now.

"I know a lot about my cousin," she said. The family, who still live there sent pictures and maps.

There were trips to schools, beaches, golf courses, a rodeo and state capitols.

What did the students learn about the areas the "Flat Me's" were sent? For those with a southern designation, the most popular answers appeared to be about there being no snow, warm temperatures, palm trees and the high number of backyard pools.

Charles Endres send his "Flat Me" to Algoma, Wis., to some family friends. He has never been there. He seemed to be particularly fascinated with the pictures taken at a John Deere conference. Charlie is a big tractor fan.

"They're cool," he said.

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Jane Lightbourn
(651) 319-4503
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