Jones’s freshman letter tradition makes an impact on The Bark’s senior editor-in-chief


Bradynn Belcher

Math teacher Mrs. Gale Jones asks her freshmen to write a letter to their senior selves, and editor-in-chief Bradynn Belcher is thankful for this tradition.

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a letter to myself to be opened when I became a senior. I remember putting my heart into the letter. I was passionate about the words flowing through my heart onto my paper. As the years went on, I forgot about the sealed envelope that served as a time capsule for my thoughts until last week.

I needed that letter. 

Three years ago, Bearden math teacher Mrs. Gale Jones gave her students – including me – the option to write a letter to their senior selves. She told us that she will house them in her room until we graduate, and when we open up our diplomas, our letters will be in there.  

In those three years, my life completely changed. I had no idea what I wrote about, and I needed to find out.

I sought out my freshman geometry teacher, partly because I thought this would be a great story for fellow Bearden students to read, but mostly so I could receive my letter before I walked across the stage in less than three months.

While catching up with Mrs. Jones, she gave me insight as to why she began this tradition with her students.

“I do this because I had a teacher, Ms. Patton, when I was in 10th grade and she did this for us,” Jones said. “I remember getting the letter as a senior and when I read it, I actually remember having no idea what I wrote about.  

“Part of the reason I like doing it, I guess, is from my own experience.”

While she is not certain of the impact that this project has had on her students, she drew on her experience to tell me about the life lesson that it taught her.

“When I read my letter as a senior, it made no sense to me,” Mrs. Jones said. “It kind of showed me that sometimes things that are huge in your life really aren’t that huge. 

“At the moment they are, but when you go on, you’re kind of like ‘I don’t even remember what that was about. It really wasn’t that big of a deal.’”

After reading my letter, I can confirm that Mrs. Jones’s statement is true. 

In my letter, I set goals for myself that I hoped to have accomplished as a senior. Some of them I have succeeded in, such as committing to play college softball, but others, I forgot were priorities to me as a freshman.

Apparently, I set a goal for myself to complete AP Spanish. Well, I did not make it past Spanish 2. 

I also told myself that I hope to be attending Maryville High School instead of Bearden. Did that happen? No. Am I upset about it? Not at all. 

The priorities I had as a freshman are not on my radar anymore. Unlike this letter, I have changed over the past three and a half years. 

Even though Mrs. Jones may not always get the luxury of hearing about her students’ letters, I want her to know that I am eternally grateful to have gained this experience, and I hope that her future students will take her up on the offer to write themselves a letter to their future selves.