In any given day, the daily mail could include anything from letters to bills to advertisements and junk mail. However, an area school district said it recently received something slightly more unusual in the mail.
Representatives with the Collinsville Independent School District said the district received a collection of letters written by students more than 20 years ago. The package was returned to the district as undeliverable and has raised questions about where it has been for the past two decades.
“Of course, all these kids now are full grown,” Collinsville Elementary School Principal Ken Kemp said. “These are all in cursive, so you know they were in at least the third grade.”
Kemp said the letter was mailed by Jo Ann Belz, a former school teacher, and was addressed to Mike Voyles. The letters appear to be thanking Voyles for a visit to one of Belz’s classes, but Kemp said he is uncertain what Voyles spoke about or the purpose of the visit.
“I have been here since 2002 and she predates me,” Kemp said.
Kemp said he initially thought the piece of mail had possibly been lost in transit and only recently located and sent toward its final destination. However, he said that it is possible the letters were recently located by Belz and only just sent.
A small Post-it note was included in the envelope that said Belz found the letters and felt Voyles would like them, Kemp said. However, the note gave no indication of when they were found and Kemp has yet to speak to Belz.
The envelope, which shows some signs of wear and tear, was postmarked on Nov. 13, 2018, but the letters inside are all dated Oct. 23, 1996. Belz’s name is handwritten on the envelope above the printed Collinsville ISD address.
District officials took to social media to try and locate both Belz and Voyles in an effort to finally deliver the letters and determine when the letters were sent. Voyles said he learned about the letters from his family, who reached out to him after the district’s post was shared on Facebook.
“You’ve got to love the Collinsville post office some days, I guess,” Voyles said with a laugh.
Voyles said Belz was a former teacher of his back when he was taking developmental classes and helped him find the drive to push forward with his studies. Upon graduation, Voyles said he would go back to the class to speak with the students, but said it has been quite some time since he visited Belz’s classroom.
“She is one of those teachers that are few and far between,” Voyles said. “She truly cared about the students she taught and if they understood the classes.”
Voyles said through his relationship with Belz, he was able to find the confidence to attempt things, including higher education, even if it might end in failure. Today, he owns his own pest control business and attributes the success to both his mother and Belz.
Voyles said he had yet to go pick up the letters, but planned to do so soon.