Wearing her silver Dallas Cowboys earrings and bracelet, Nancy Miller patiently waits for a bus full of kids from Good Shepherd Episcopal School. Out of the 20 students, The Presbyterian Village North resident has her mind set on just one – a 9-year-old Cowboy fan named Ahan Jain.
Ahan and Miller are pen pals. After back and forth letters since September, the two were finally meeting face-to-face.
Ahan’s school started a pen pal program with the senior citizens to help his class learn how to read and write cursive. The idea came after Ahan’s teacher, Karen Gunter, displayed the Declaration of Independence on the wall – and every student struggled to read it. The third graders would write their letters in cursive, and the seniors would respond, also in cursive.
The 20 seniors gathered in the lobby when the bus arrived on Tuesday, applauding as the third graders and their teacher walked through the double doors. Some students had a look of confusion: "Is all this clapping really for us?"
"I think I see mine," proclaims Miller to her neighbors. She softly yells out Ahan’s name to get his attention. The two embrace, already acting like they know each other.
"Hi! I’m so glad to see you," said Miller.
Watch Ahan and Miller meet for the first time:
Ahan wasted no time directing the conversation to the Dallas Cowboys.
"Why did they cut Dez?" was Ahan’s first question to his pen pal.
Miller escorted Ahan to the auditorium and the two started chronicling their day in a journal provide by the senior center (in cursive of course). They then updated each other on what has happened since their last letter.
"This has been the most amazing afternoon we have had," Gunter said about her third graders. "I don’t think any of us slept last night. We were all so excited."
Conversations could be heard in all directions as 20 students caught up with 20 seniors. The event was a pizza party, but some didn’t care about the food – they were just excited to meet the people they’ve been writing for the past few months.
"I’ve been anxious to meet her," said Ahan.
Good Shepherd Episcopal School third-grader Ahan Jain writes to his pen pal Nancy Miller, a resident at Presbyterian Village North in Dallas (David Woo/The Dallas Morning News)
Over pepperoni pizza and celery sticks, the Cowboys chat continued between Miller and Ahan.
"His very first letter to me, Ahan said he is a real Dallas Cowboys fan," said Miller. "And that was a real good connection because I am as well, and have been since the ’60s."
Ahan chimed in, saying he thinks Dez Bryant will now play for the New York Giants, to which Miller nodded and smiled.
The two-hour lunch and tour flew by and Ahan and his classmates jumped back on the bus, back to Good Shepherd, where the conversation about the day likely continued.
So what now? The lesson on cursive was a success. The plan to meet each other has happened. The school year is quickly winding down.
Nancy Miller and Ahan Jain pose for a picture after a pizza party at Presbyterian Village North. The two have been pen pals for months and finally met face-to-face. (Tommy Noel/Staff photographer)
But Miller doesn’t want the letters to stop.
"It would be hard not to stay in touch," said Miller. "I want to know what happens to him in the future."
When asked if Ahan wants to continue the pen pal letters, he replied with a simple, "yeah."
As for Gunter, she says she never imagined a simple lesson on cursive would turn into this – a life-long friendship the pen pals will never forget.