Kennedy Hammond is a darling, precocious 10-year-old fifth grader who attends K-Anthony School in Inglewood. She is typical of many young ladies in her age range and enjoys common interests like cheerleading, gymnastics, and getting good grades in school. She has a younger brother and both loving parents in the household who encourage her early learning, activities and lady-like development.
Kennedy is also one whose summer has been marked by two special letters that distinguishes her among her classmates and perhaps many other fifth graders throughout the nation.
She is able to boast that she received a personal correspondence from President George Bush and has his signed letter, on his official White House stationary, to prove it.
“When my teacher was explaining the importance of voting,” Kennedy said, “I decided that I wanted to write the president and offer my suggestions about how he could make our community better.”
In her letter, she described her Inglewood neighborhood and cited many of the problems that exist and the areas where the president’s involvement would be helpful.
“I asked him if he could change some of the things in my community to make it better,” she described. “I told him about graffiti, gangs, drunk drivers, guns, child abuse, and the homeless problem. I think I covered everything.”
Kennedy wrote her letter, printing neatly so that her letter to the president could be easily understood, and asked her parents to check it for spelling errors. Her mother, a professional and father, a small-business owner, reviewed her letter, helped her find the mailing address for the president, and provided the postage.
“We were all surprised when she received a response from President Bush,” Jason Hammond, Kennedy’s father said. “She took the letter to church and shared it with our pastor and several church members.”
President Bush thanked Kennedy for writing, encouraged her to continue to do well in school and urged her to continue to strive to be a good citizen. If it was a form letter, it certainly was written as if it were prepared especially for Kennedy.
In the Hammond family living room, the fireplace mantelpiece is adorned with numerous awards, trophies and certificates that she and her younger brother have already accumulated in their young lives.
Kennedy’s accolades include Good Citizenship and Good Behavior Certificates from her school, a certificate of participation in the Black Writer’s Essay Contest, a Student of the Week Award and numerous competitive awards, ribbons and plaques as a participant with the Gardena Mohicans Cheerleading Squad.
Kennedy has already decided that she will share her letter from the president with her classmates sometime after school begins. And, as other students discuss their summer travel experiences or write about how they spent their summer, in the typical, ‘How did you spend your summer?’ essay that many teachers request during the first week of school, she is certain that she will be the only one in class who can truthfully say, “I corresponded with the President of the United States.”