When Fred Stauffer was an environmental teacher at Unionville High School back in the 1990s, he came up with an original idea to give his students an assignment to write a letter to themselves, and predict what their future would be like.
That future, 24 years later, is here.
Last month, Stauffer, with the help of Megan Plunkett-Cromer, delivered letters from students in Stauffer's 1993 and 1994 classes. Stauffer didn't read them all, but some of the ones he did read were doom and gloom, others eerily prophetic.
"Some of the stories were interesting," Stauffer said. "They were supposed to be kids writing letters to themselves. Some were doomsdayers, others were pretty positive. It was a lot of fun."
Plunkett-Cromer, who turned 40 in April and was a student in Stauffer's class, was surprised when Stauffer showed up at her house unannounced. Stauffer found her home when he went to her parents' house first, and they directed him to her house right down the street.
"He gave my letter to me," she said. "I wrote about wanting four kids, about wanting a teaching job, and other family and personal things. It was cool."
Plunkett-Cromer has four children now, and had taught in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District before retiring to take care of her children, but she remains a PTO president.
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Stauffer then asked Plunkett-Cromer to help deliver the more than 70 letters, because it had become hard to track down students who no longer lived with their parents.
Dan Fogel said he doesn't remember writing his letter in Stauffer's environmental science class in 1994, but he was glad to see his letter when it got delivered.
"I said world hunger will be a worse problem and more people will be cold and sick and endangered species will be an issue, and there will be disease and war," Fogel said. "But I also said I will be married with children and have a decent living and a nice job. That part came true."
Stauffer said he remembers reading a letter from one female student who said she wanted to be an elementary school teacher in Unionville, wanted three children and wanted to name them Mark, Heather and John. She had four children, and never used the names she predicted, but ended up becoming a teacher at Chadds-Ford Elementary School.
Stuaffer said he quit the experiment after two years when he realized he could have a problem delivering so many letters years later. He said he enjoys retirement.
"One of the most rewarding things I have seen in retirement is to see (past students) doing great things with their lives, and what they have achieved," Stauffer said. "Teachers influence lives."
Many of the letters are delivered, though some are not.