Published Online: January 28, 1998

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Though he was busy preparing for the Super Bowl, John Elway, the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, took some time out to encourage students at a Colorado high school.

Mr. Elway recently told the students of Chaparral High School in Parker that as they rooted for the Broncos in the Super Bowl, the players would also be rooting for the students.

Those and other inspiring words originated in an English teacher's request to celebrities around the world to share something with students who are apathetic or not excited about learning.

Damon Larson started writing letters to hundreds of celebrities last June and didn't stop until October. Responses are still coming in, and the high school staff estimates that the school has received more than 50 letters, a return of about one-quarter of the letters sent.

Letters came from a range of prominent people, from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to sportscaster Greg Gumble. The class even received a letter from Mother Teresa, written two days before her death.

Mr. Larson's students have studied the letters and noticed some common themes, such as reaching for excellence, continuing to dream, appreciating the beauty in reading books, and choosing friends wisely.

The 9th grade teacher plans to use the letters to engage his students in learning how to write a business letter. Over the next few weeks, each student will respond to one letter that struck a chord and thank the celebrity for taking the time to give students some advice.

Nasty Lessons

Students in Ray Greco's 11th grade science class gobbled up an unusual afternoon snack recently when the teacher served chocolate-covered worms as a part of a lesson on alternative food supplies and cultural understanding.

"Humans may someday need to modify their behaviors, change what they eat," said Mr. Greco, who teaches at Knoch High School in Butler, Pa. "Other societies eat insects, so we thought we'd try it."

Before dunking them in chocolate, Mr. Greco fried the inch-long meal worms in a pan. Almost all of the students tried at least one of the worms, which were purchased at a bait-supply company.

"It was interesting and unique," Mr. Greco said. "They had a great time. It's not something they'd go out of their way to eat."

--Karen Abercrombie & Jessica L. Sandham

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