By Monique Harrison
Lawhon Elementary School second-grader Tamara Miller considers herself to be quite the optimist.
But when her class launched a helium-filled balloon with a note attached on Valentine’s Day, she wasn’t getting her hopes up.
“I didn’t think it would go too far – land in my yard, maybe,” the 8-year-old Tupelo resident said. “But it didn’t. It went really far.”
“Really far,” in this case, is McDonough, Ga., which is located about 20 miles southeast of Atlanta.
The jumbo-sized, red-and-white balloon apparently made good time on its journey of about 350 miles, according to a letter the school received from Greg D. Williams.
Williams, who found the balloon and the letter students attached to it in his yard, wrote the class. The father of two said he found the balloon about four hours after its release.
The students’ teacher, Wanda Williams, said although winds were strong on the day of the release, she’s not sure how the balloon traveled so far in such a short period of time. It takes most motorists about six hours to make the trip, while the balloon made it in four.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to hear anything after we released it,” Williams said. “We were really surprised to see it managed to go so far in such a short period of time. It’s really remarkable. I’m as surprised as my students are about all of this.”
Eight-year-old Polly Ann Watson’s grandmother, Polly Watson, initiated the Valentine’s Day project, purchasing the balloon for the class.
“My grandmother remembered doing this when she was the age I am now,” the second-grader said. “She remembered that it was fun and she wanted us to do it, too. It’s been really fun.”
Other students in the class had their own dreams for the balloon.
“I wanted it to go to Florida,” said Mallory Johnson, 7. “If I was a balloon, I would (go there).”
Brandon Lewis wanted his grandparents to find his class’ balloon.
“I was hoping they would go out and see our balloon and write back,” said Lewis, whose grandparents live in Alabama. “They’d be surprised the balloon was from us. That would be great.”