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For 26 Years, NJ Teacher Had His 6th-Graders Write Letters to Their Future Selves. This Year He Got to See Them Opened

The 74 Million |

“This isn’t just … a creative writing assignment, you’re actually traveling from the past to the future,” says teacher Richard Palmgren. “You’ve taken like a snapshot of your past and you’re presenting it to your future self.”

For over 25 years, Palmgren has asked his sixth-graders to compose letters to their future 18-year-old selves. Letter writers describe their life as a middle schooler, chronicle current events, and share some wishes for what lies ahead. After students seal, stamp, and address their messages, Palmgren locks the envelopes safely away for six years to be sent back just a few weeks before high school graduation.

Normally, no one but the letter writers themselves lay eyes on these time-bending documents but this year for the first time, the ritual was captured in two short documentaries entitled Dear Future Me. Produced by Redglass Pictures and Garage by HP, the films show the sixth-graders writing their letters earmarked for 2026 and the seniors opening theirs penned back in 2014.

Class of 2020 reading their letters from 6th grade.
Class of 2026 writing their letters.