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Take Note: Writers' request, rapid response

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Two 6th graders at a suburban Detroit middle school have learned a valuable lesson: If you ask for something, you may just get it.

As part of a class assignment to write a business letter with an "outrageous request," Kelly Billings and Shaun Boening wrote to the vice president of the Detroit Pistons basketball team asking for tickets for their classmates.

In their letter, Kelly and Shaun explain that the school's 6th graders have been divided into two groups and that their group is made up of 136 students and teachers.

They go on to say: "Kids have been making fun of us behind our backs, saying that getting a ticket for every kid in our group is not possible. Is this something the Pistons organization can do?"

Within a week, the students received 150 tickets in the mail.

"I was really surprised because we got it so quick," Shaun, 11, said. His classmate, Kelly, said she's looking forward to her first Pistons game with her class next week.

Kelly, who is also 11, plays in a basketball league.

The letter-writing exercise started when Patrick Koneval, a teacher at Smith Middle School in Troy, asked his 6th-grade students to practice their correspondence skills by sending an introductory letter to someone they admired.

When 60 percent of the students received some type of response from their letters, Mr. Koneval decided to take the exercise a bit further and have the students ask for something out of the ordinary.

Students ended up with memorabilia from a variety of celebrities.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a popular music group, sent one student autographed pictures of band members. The Detroit Rockets soccer team offered some students seats at discount rates.

And Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz sent one student a personal letter and team paraphernalia.

The message here, Mr. Koneval said, is that "anything is possible in life as long as you put your mind to it and try."

Students also wrote to William H. Gates III, the chairman of the Microsoft Corp., asking for software and computers for the 720-student school.

School officials are watching the mail for any reply from Mr. Gates.

--Jessica Portner

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