wonders never cease
One of the disadvantages of big, scary research universities is that undergraduates don't enjoy the same level of access to their professors that kids at liberal arts colleges and smaller universities get. Case in point: rec letters. When I applied for study abroad/big fancy fellowships/grad school, my letters came from my professors and my deans. At a place like UT, though, the vast majority of students can't expect more than one or two letters from a professor for applications to anything less significant than law or professional school. So who writes the letters for the little things? The teaching assistants.
I write letters of recommendation whenever a student asks. And I've gotten used to not hearing what happened unless I happen to run into the student in the union or at a show. Thank-you notes are unheard of (why anyone would not write a thank-you note is a topic for another time). I've generally come to grips with the fact that it's a tacky world and that my students have succumbed to low standards.
But the most remarkable thing happened today: A student actually wrote me a thank-you note. AND let me know the results of the competition (he won). Wow. I don't even know what to think. He is a church kid. Maybe that explains it.