Nelsen students honor local veterans with handwritten letters

As part of the Puget Sound Honor Flight program, students from Nelsen Middle School wrote 121 letters for veterans leading up to Memorial Day.

It is said that letter writing is a vanishing art, but not for students at Nelsen Middle School in Renton.

In late March and early April, over 100 students from Alyssa Barrett’s Language Arts and Advanced Leadership classes took part in a project with the Puget Sound Honor flight program, writing 121 supportive letters for veterans who are flown out to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials that honor their service.

“I connected it more to service and recognizing people and giving credit where credit is due,” said Barrett, who has been teaching at Nelsen for seven years. “We talk a lot about service and sacrifice in the Leadership classes and Honor Flight sounded like a great way to recognize people.”

Puget Sound Honor Flight is a volunteer chapter of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that provides free transportation to Washington D.C. for veterans who otherwise would not be able to visit the nation’s capital and its memorials.

Since its inaugural flight in October 2013, Puget Sound Honor Flight has flown more than 1,500 veterans local to western Washington. The latest flight, which took place May 20-22, carried with it the letters from Barrett’s 6th through 8th graders, which were read by the veterans on the flight.

The Nelsen Middle School students were provided with card stock, colorful paper and envelopes after being shown a presentation on different wars that American veterans have fought in and a slideshow of veterans receiving letters in the past.

“The students were excited to write and decorate the letters; many even asked to write more than one. They seemed to really love the idea of mail call and bringing some joy into the lives of these veterans,” said Barrett in an email. “They came to understand the depth and meaning of the trip after Lilia’s presentation. That this wasn’t just a vacation for the veterans, but instead a time to remember their comrades, their time in the military, and that their sacrifice did not go unnoticed.”

Puget Sound Honor Flight has two more trips scheduled for Sept. 16-18 and Oct. 14-16, which veterans can begin planning for in July.

As for doing another Honor Flight project with her students, Barrett wants to go bigger. “I’m hoping to do it bigger for Memorial Day with the whole school,” she said.

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Puget Sound Honor Flight

Photos courtesy of Puget Sound Honor Flight

Photos courtesy of Puget Sound Honor Flight.

Photos courtesy of Puget Sound Honor Flight