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Students offered a trip through the decades

Students in grades 8 through 12 can take an exciting, colorful trip through the last decades of the 20th century in their classrooms courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service and then have a hand in selecting the topics for postage stamps to illustrate the decades of the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s.

The Celebrate the Century kits that teachers can order contain lesson plans and comic books, colorful topic cards, posters, stickers and other ways to make history come alive for students. Web site addresses are also furnished for more extensive investigation of topics.

Students can even design a stamp illustrating their vision of the future, and it could be one of four that will actually be issued by the Postal Service in 2000.

An estimated 300,000 classrooms of students are expected to take part in the classroom program. Teachers can get the kits by calling (800) 450-4636.

There is no charge for the kits, and they will arrive on a regular basis during the two years of the program, which began in January with the 1950s kit. Balloting is already under way on those stamps.

The international stamp design contest, named "Stampin' the Future," is open to children 8 to 12 and runs from Sept. 9 through Oct. 31.

Two finalists will be selected from each state and selected U.S. territories. The four winning designs will be announced in the first quarter of 1999 and unveiled in the second quarter.

The Postal Service says it will have contest forms at local post offices soon.

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