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Kids sent in so much cuteness, we couldn't keep it all for ourselves.

Our letter-writing contest is over—more than 100 notes came in, some from as far away as Texas, and three winners were picked late last week. But there was just so much cuteness, we couldn't keep it all for ourselves.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 03/19/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()

This week, three winners were selected in our letter-writing contest. These kids showed a strong interest in the elephants at the Zoo and in the wild, they researched the animals and learned about their new habitat, and they wrote us compelling notes. We're proud to congratulate the three winners, who will read their letters aloud to the elephants at a media event welcoming them to their new community center next Thursday at 10 AM.

The winner in our youngest category, Ethan Schipper, is a Kindergartener at Westbriar Elementary in Vienna. In addition to his note, Ethan sent us $1.85 from his piggy bank. Commence heart-melt.

The winner in our middle category, Sarah Price, is a third-grader at Wood Acres Elementary School in Bethesda. When Sarah's mom told her she'd won our contest, Sarah said: "I can barely breathe, I'm so excited!" We're excited, too, little one.

And the winner of our oldest category, Tony Phonemany, is a fifth-grader at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield. Tony and his compatriots in Mrs. McNertney's class built an elephant herd in the hallway of their school and completed serious research as they prepared to write letters to us. Our staff and the zookeepers were struck by Tony's level of knowledge and with his sense of humor—we're still chuckling, even though we've read his letter a dozen times.


Posted at 01:15 PM/ET, 03/15/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()

We asked area elementary schoolers to write to Kandula, Shanthi, and Ambika, the elephants who live at the National Zoo. They're moving to a new community center this month, and we hoped that the kids might be able to offer some guidance on moving or on conservation.

Some of the best letters we receive will appear here, and three writers will be invited to the Zoo to read their notes aloud to the elephants on March 21.

Today's featured letter comes from Karenna Keane, a second-grader at Glebe Elementary School in Arlington. At 8, Karenna has already learned how rewarding it is to help animals in need.

Posted at 01:45 PM/ET, 03/12/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()

We asked area elementary schoolers to write to Kandula, Shanthi, and Ambika, the elephants who live at the National Zoo. They're moving to a new community center this month, and we hoped that the kids might be able to offer some guidance on moving or on conservation.

Some of the best letters we receive will appear here, and three writers will be invited to the Zoo to read their notes aloud to the elephants on March 21.

Today's featured letter comes from Dorothy Smith, a kindergartener in the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. We think the elephants will love her drawing!

Posted at 03:20 PM/ET, 03/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()

Last week, we asked area elementary schoolers to write to Kandula, Shanthi, and Ambika, the elephants who live at the National Zoo. They're moving to a new community center this month, and we hoped that the kids might be able to offer some guidance on moving or on conservation.

Some of the best letters we receive will appear here, and three writers will be invited to the Zoo to read their notes aloud to the elephants on March 21.

Today's featured letter comes from Lina Stensland, a second-grader at Janney Elementary School in Northwest DC. Lina is an experienced mover and glitter-application expert whose thoughtful advice we're sure the elephants would appreciate.


Posted at 12:22 PM/ET, 03/08/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()

Last week, we asked area elementary schoolers to write to Kandula, Shanthi, and Ambika, the elephants who live at the National Zoo. They're moving to a new community center this month, and we hoped that the kids might be able to offer some guidance on moving or on conservation.

Some of the best letters we receive will appear here, and three writers will be invited to the Zoo to read their notes aloud to the elephants on March 21.

Today's featured letter comes from Wood Acres Elementary School third-grader Katie Sklaire, admittedly an elephant-lover since infancy. It's important to Katie that the elephants' wild counterparts are conserved for several reasons—read on to find out why.
 


Posted at 01:55 PM/ET, 03/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()

Last week, we asked area elementary schoolers to write to Kandula, Shanthi, and Ambika, the elephants who live at the National Zoo. They're moving to a new community center this month, and we hoped that the kids might be able to offer some guidance on moving or on conservation. 

Some of the best letters we receive will appear here, and three writers will be invited to the Zoo to read their notes aloud to the elephants on March 21. 

Our first featured letter arrived yesterday from Arlington, Virginia. The author, Monroe Duquette, isn't even in elementary school yet—he's only three—but when he heard that the Zoo's elephants were moving, he wanted to offer his guidance, as a kid who knows what they're going through.


Posted at 10:17 AM/ET, 03/06/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The National Zoo’s elephants are moving to a new Elephant Community Center soon, and Washingtonian is asking students to write the pachyderms a welcome home letter they’ll never forget. By Mary Yarrison
Photograph of an Asian elephant from the Smithsonian National Zoo courtesy of the zoo's Flickr photostream.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Washingtonian need your help! The Zoo’s elephants are moving to a new Elephant Community Center soon, and we know how much they'd appreciate a proper welcome from the community. 

Photo by Connor Mallon, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

We invite elementary school-aged students in the Washington area to write letters to the elephants on one of the following topics and mail them to the magazine.

  1. Tell the elephants about a time when you had to move into a new house or classroom or to a new state—or write about another kind of change you've had to make—and describe how it went for you. What tips do you have for the elephants for their big move? 
  2. Tell the elephants why it is important to you that their friends in the wild be conserved. Write to them about what you are already doing or what you hope to do in the future to make a difference. 
Washingtonian will post a selection of the most thoughtful and creative letters here on Washington Voices beginning March 4, and the Smithsonian will invite three letter-writers—one from each of three grade-level categories (kindergarten and first grade; second and third grades; and fourth, fifth and sixth grades)—to the Zoo the morning of March 21. They and their families (parents and siblings) will get a sneak peek at the new Elephant Community Center, and they will get to read their letters to the elephants at a press event that morning. 

The students selected to come to the Zoo will have demonstrated in their letters creativity, imagination and the writing skills they are learning in school. They also will have demonstrated an effort to research the Zoo’s three elephants and the Zoo’s work with elephants under human care and in the wild. 

Washingtonian will accept letters postmarked no later than March 11. Winners will be announced March 14 and will be invited to come to the Zoo the morning of March 21 (transportation will not be provided). Parents, guardians and teachers should remember to use the cover sheet and provide parental/guardian contact information so that the Zoo can invite the young letter writers to the event. 

The Zoo’s new Elephant Community Center provides the Zoo’s elephants with ample space for socializing, training, and playing, and gives visitors the chance to get an up-close view of these incredible animals. The Elephant Community Center opens to the public March 23. 

Letters should be sent along with a completed Letter Contest Cover Sheet to:


Mary Yarrison

Washingtonian Magazine 
1828 L St. N.W., Suite 200

Washington, D.C. 20036

Have questions? I'll be checking the comments below regularly, so you're welcome to leave them there. Or you can email me at myarrison@washingtonian.com.

Posted at 12:44 PM/ET, 02/27/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()