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Oregon penpals meet Carson City counterparts

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Jesus Buciaga, 10, right, of Empire Elementary School and Reno Connelly, 9, of Roosevelt Elementary in Klamath Falls, Ore., catch up after meeting in person for the first time at the Carson City school on Thursday evening.
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Eager students, like Jesus Buciaga, just couldn’t stay still.

They jumped around and fidgeted and talked excitedly near the back stairs of Empire Elementary School Thursday evening, expectation glowing on their faces.

Others, perhaps more shy, waited in the multipurpose room, from which the smells of pizza wafted. A few meandered in and out, checking on the action in the parking lot then popping back inside, making sure no one was eating ahead of time.

And then it happened.

The bus full of penpals pulled up, and fourth-graders from Chris Young’s Roosevelt Elementary School in Klamath Fall, Ore., piled out.

Jesus, 10, looked for his penpal, Reno, among the crowd. He asked a couple of students their names and finally came upon his counterpart.

“Hi, I’m Jesus. It’s nice to meet you. How was the trip? Did you have fun? What movies did you see (on the bus)?”

Reno Connelly, 9, responded to each question.

After a day of high-intensity emotions for both classes, students found themselves clicking with their penpals, or at least being able to enjoy some pizza together.

The Klamath Falls students planned to sleep over in the multipurpose room at Empire before heading up to Virginia City today then back to Klamath Falls for a five-hour trip home.

“The kids have been ecstatic,” said Empire Elementary fourth-grade teacher Linda King. “Actually, they’ve been this way for two days. Yesterday, they kept shouting out at lessons, ‘Our penpals are coming tomorrow!’ so this has been on their minds for a while.”

Young’s students arrived in Carson City Thursday and visited the Nevada Railroad Museum and the Capitol. Many enjoyed games of Red Light/ Green Light or Tunnel Tag on the Capitol lawn, judging from their grass-stained knees.

While the Klamath Falls students looked forward to their overnight stay, several Empire students were bummed they’d be leaving after the pizza party.

“I told (Reno) that I was excited he was coming to visit,” said Jesus of a letter he wrote to his penpal for the bus ride home. “I told him that my dad was going to buy me a little motorcycle, and I wish we had it so that way we could ride it around.”