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Good Neighbors: The Letter Project

Genesee Valley H.S. student Lealah Greene sent hand-written letters of appreciation to members of her rural community. Her documentary earned state-wide honors.

ANGELICA, N.Y. — A Genesee Valley Central School student recently earned second place in a statewide video contest in which she thanked the people in her small, rural community who she's come to appreciate during the pandemic. 

Lealah Greene, who just finished her sophomore year, called her video "The Letter Project." She put pen to paper to write letters to people in the Angelica and Belmont communities as part of the video contest sponsored by the Rural Schools Association. The theme was "Our School, Our Community."

"Growing up in that environment there's been so much love and compassion and it's just been amazing and I've missed having that so much," said Greene.

She sent letters to many people including the Ash family that runs the sweet shop in Angelica, as well as David Fleming, her bus driver since kindergarten and member of the American Legion, and Dr. Brian Schmitt, Genesee Valley school superintendent.

"It was so warming. And it was needed. I was having a really tough day in our remote learning and vacillating how to come back full time. And of course we were facing some criticism. So I got this random letter and I read it in my office and it warmed my heart it made my day." said Dr. Schmitt.

Greene said she was happy to hear her letter brightened his day. 

"That makes me really happy because that's the type of people who don't get the thank you letters and that was the whole idea behind this, thanking the people who don't get thanked," she said.

Lealah's father said he's proud of the way his daughter has grown and stayed positive during difficult times in the pandemic.

"It's emotional to realize that my daughter can be thoughtful and caring to the point that the whole community is involved, and she understands who has been an influence on her life. She understands who has meaning for her and it was just amazing and an emotional thing for me," said David Greene.

While Lealah's video earned her second place, she said letting others know that they're appreciated was even more rewarding. 

"It's just important to me to focus on thanking people rather than the praise I'm getting from it," she said.

Dr. Schmitt said the whole GVCS community is proud of Lealah.

"We talk a lot at Genesee Valley about being present and being grateful for what we have. And when we see that being modeled back to us, it's one of the most rewarding experiences we have as an educator, when you see your lessons being lived out. And Lealah did that by showing her gratitude," said Schmitt.

Over the summer Lealah plans to write more thank you letters- not for a project or for an award- but to simply let people know that they're appreciated. 

To see "The Letter Project" video, click here

If you'd know someone who should be featured as a "Good Neighbor" on Channel 2, e-mail details to Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com.

See past "Good Neighbors" below.


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