Elkhart Student Uses IB Lesson to Connect with Hollywood Actor

Brandon Sanchez-Alvarez
Brandon Sanchez-Alvarez

Elkhart Elementary School third-grade student Brandon Sanchez-Alvarez is becoming quite the history buff through his International Baccalaureate curriculum. During a recent class, teacher Jennie Schmaltz led Sanchez-Alvarez and his classmates  through a history lesson, where they explored facts about the early Denver pioneers, including that of Margaret "Molly" Brown. Brown, of course, is most known for surviving the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic.

Coincidentally, "The Titanic" is one of Sanchez-Alvarez' favorite movies. Another part of their lesson was to write letters to themselves and to other people. Given his fascination with "The Titanic," Schmaltz suggested that Sanchez-Alvarez write a letter to the movie's biggest star, Leonardo DiCaprio. In it, he professed his admiration for him, saying, "It was in 1912 and you are still alive! I don't know when they took you out of the water."

Luckily, the daughter of Elkhart staff member Linda Meehan was working with DiCaprio on a film and was able to deliver Sanchez-Alvarez' letter to him.  DiCaprio wrote back, encouraging Sanchez-Alvarez to stay focused in his studies. Near the end of the letter, he exclaimed "And yes, I am happy to finally be unfrozen after all these years!"

Two of the IB learner profile components are to be a communicator and a risk-taker, something Sanchez-Alvarez demonstrated through his work.

"He took a pretty big risk writing a letter to such a famous person," Schmaltz said. "Leonardo is kind of an indirect hero in Brandon's life. He has given him a real positive role model to look at. Now it's like this class thing... we are all in love with 'The Titanic'."