Students Surprise Soldier Pen-Pal

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RENO -- When the letters students at Traner Middle School sent to Army National Guard Specialist Cherice Stormfeltz in Afghanistan were returned, there were worries.

"So the package got returned undeliverable and I feared the worst," language arts teacher Julie Begbie said.

Fortunately, Begbie says she later learned the reason the letters were send back is Stormfeltz was already in the process of coming home to Nevada.

The students at Traner had been Stormfeltz's pen-pals during the year she was deployed in Afghanistan.

"I asked her what it was like out there, she said that is gets lonely, and if I should try out for volleyball," a student said.

Stormfeltz said the students wrote: "How did you get where you're at? What did you do in high school? What were you like?"

Back in the country just a couple weeks, Stormfeltz finally met her pen-pals face-to-face Thursday.

"Welcome back," students shouted as she walked into a classroom. Stormfeltz hugged some of her former teachers -- she is a former Traner student.

Stormfeltz told the students she would particularly remember the people she met in Afghanistan. She said she earned the nicknames: "storm" and "stormy." She also urged students to chase their dreams. "You can't go back ten years, and look down, and be like: 'I'm going to do over my life.'"

"She's very inspirational," a student said.

Stormfeltz said she is looking forward to relaxing, and may some day work in medicine.