One of the hardest secrets to keep
PALs surprise teachers and show their appreciation
October 25, 2018
Teachers do more than just grade papers: they sponsor clubs, assist with student struggles, and overall foster growth on campus. Since they’ve dedicated their lives to helping students, the Bowie Peer Assistant and Leadership (PALs) Club annually celebrate teachers through “Secret PALs.” Club members write letters and even buy gifts for every teacher and administrator.
“The whole Secret PALs event started the first year there was a group in 1988, and we do it so the Pal Students can give back to the teachers,” PALs advisor Alejandro Garcia said. “Teaching can be such an under appreciated job, so my goal is for students to show their appreciation for them.
To ensure no teacher, administrator, or staff member is left out, each student is given between seven and nine teachers for whom they write cards, make posters, or even give gifts.
“It’s my goal to make sure every teacher is assigned a Secret Pal,” Garcia said. “There are some teachers here that receive daily praise from students, so it’s good to give thanks to those who don’t always get it.”
The act of writing letters, decorating cards or giving gifts can be tedious since some students have never met their assigned teachers. So Secret PALs appreciate when teachers write back; it forms a bond neither of them will forget.
“One of my favorite aspects of secret PALs is writing to staff members that I haven’t met, and some that I haven’t even heard of,” senior Pal Natalie Aman said. “I’ve heard back from some teachers that I don’t know and it’s been fun for me getting to know things that we have in common.”
The act of keeping the secret can be hard. Some students are paired with teachers they currently have, so keeping everything secret until the party has been a struggle for some.
“It has been especially difficult for me to keep two of my teacher’s secret,” Aman said. “I have one of them currently, so every time I go to their class I have to do my best not to say the little phrases or things I wrote in my letters.”
As teachers check their box for letters, they begin to write back and forth between them and their secret PALs, forming bonds
“It’s is like a ray of sunshine going to my teacher mailbox in the morning to find something complimentary and sweet,” English teacher Kimberly Wiedmeyer. “When I initially got my first letter I was excited because this student knew me, so writing back to them was nice to see how well they actually knew me.” as to get my PALs to understand the value and power of saying thank you,” Garcia
said. “These students put a lot of work into their letters and afterward I’ve had teachers email me showing their thanks gratitude towards their secret PALs.”