Flat Stanley joins the Edison gymnastics team

Members of the Edison's gymnastics team have Flat Stanley perform a back bend while posing for a team photo after the Northern Region Gymnastics Championship.
Members of the Edison's gymnastics team have Flat Stanley perform a back bend while posing for a team photo after the Northern Region Gymnastics Championship. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
Washington Post Staff Photographer
Sunday, February 13, 2011; 11:59 PM

Flat Stanley began his journey on Feb. 3, when he was gently tucked inside a large white envelope by a group of first graders in a Penngrove, Calif., classroom. Stanley, in this case cut from a manila folder, is the main character in the children's book series "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown. In the books, Stanley becomes flat after a large bulletin board falls on him while he's sleeping. Not hurt, Stanley finds new ways to enjoy himself - like letting his younger brother use him as a kite. Stanley also discovers that he can travel the world by simply buying postage stamps and slipping into an envelope.

After reading one of the books, the children in Wendy Funk's classroom at Penngrove Elementary School, made their own Flat Stanley and got him ready for a new set of adventures. (Thousands of classrooms all over the world participate in Flat Stanley projects each year.) They placed him inside an envelope with a travel journal and a letter asking his caretakers to take pictures of his trip.

"I'm in the Air Force," said Kristin Eberline, "so they decided to send him to me thinking that I could bring him to a lot of places."

Stanley started his adventures in the Washington area shaking hands with military brass and eating lunch with Eberline's co-workers. The first graders' Stanley was bound to have fun. After his visit in Washington, Eberline had promised to send him to visit the troops in Iraq. Before he left town, a tour of the monuments would be in order.

On his second day in town, Stanley found himself at Lake Braddock. Thinking of where else to take Stanley on his trip, "I thought why not the regional gymnastic championships," said Eberline, whose daughter Tia is a senior competing on the Edison gymnastics team.

After eight hours in the gym, Flat Stanley took his place on the balance beam and posed for a team photo with the girls from Edison. Trying to fit in with his company, Stanley showed off performing cartwheels, headstands, and backflips.

"Today was his first gymnastics lesson," joked Tia Eberline, third from the left, holding Flat Stanley. For the senior, the Flat Stanley project is a fun way to give back. "I'm ending my school career, " Eberline said. "It's like someone young, and coming to me as like an 'oldie' compared to her." Eberline got into the project as she paraded Stanley around. "It's good to see all sorts of people with Flat Stanley. It's so funny."

"I never did that project but I would have loved to have made one and see what kind of pictures we could get. It would have been fun."

"He became part of our family today," said Tia Eberline. "He became part of our team."


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