ROY -- Second-graders in Shirlene Miller's class at North Park Elementary School carefully sorted through their assortment of postcards to pick out their favorites.
Soon thereafter, hands shot into the air from students eager to tell all about their cards.
The students have been receiving postcards from around the world since January, when Miller started her yearly collection of postcards for students. Her goal each year has been for the students to receive cards from each state; but in past years, the most anyone accumulated was 35 or so.
Looking ahead to retiring at the end of this school year, Miller wanted to go out with a bang and make sure her students got a card from every state.
Miller's daughter and sister-in-law joined her in the pursuit and created a Facebook campaign to help the students.
"My son served in the military, so (my daughter-in-law) has lived in many places," Miller said.
Miller's children soon learned about the Trucker Buddy program, a group of truckers who collect cards and items from all over the country and send or bring them to students throughout the year.
Once her class started working with the Trucker Buddies, the collection naturally picked up.
"I started getting (cards) almost every other day ... some days I would have huge stacks," Miller said.
Four other classes also started working with the Trucker Buddies, and the school has received postcards from all over the country.
Miller has always enjoyed the activity with her students, because it teaches them so many things. Each students has a folder with a Ziploc baggie in which to store their postcards. A map of the United States and of the world is attached and every time a new postcard comes in, the students "go on a trip," Miller said.
As Miller spoke, the students "went on a trip" to Arkansas by touching the state of Utah with their fingers and then following Miller's directions, such as "one state east." The students would shout out that state and then keep going with the directions until they arrived at the destination state. Miller keeps the students' names in a jar from which she draws one name. That student gets to keep that postcard for the day.
Each student has at least 13 postcards, and some have more, because when Miller starts the unit she sends home a note to parents encouraging them to have family or friends who live in other states or countries to send postcards to the students.
"My goal is for each student to have at least one postcard with their name on it," Miller said. This year, she surpassed her goal.
Student Brenten Otero proudly displayed his photo of Niagra Falls and said it was his favorite.
"It just looks pretty," he said proudly.
Addysen Bodily especially likes her postcard from Delaware for two reasons: She likes the bridge shown on the card, and she received it from a Trucker Buddy.
When the truckers visited the school, the students were able to get into the big cabs and have their photos taken. They all proudly display their photos in their folders. Student Chandler Young handled his cards very carefully, saying, "I'm so glad we get to keep them."
Miller thinks more postcards will pour in for the next two weeks, but said she was thrilled when they finally got the last state they needed -- Arkansas -- last week.
"We were waiting, and we finally got it."