Middle school students send holiday letters to soldiers

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Dec. 2, 2011
Students Sophia and Andrew, in teacher Karen Pratson's class, wrote to soldiers in Afghanistan over Thanksgiving. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Students Sophia and Andrew, in teacher Karen Pratson's class, wrote to soldiers in Afghanistan over Thanksgiving. Photos by Frances Taylor.

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday break, students at East Hartford Middle School began to reflect on what it meant for people to be away from their families during the holiday season. One of their teachers, Mary Jo Holden, has a son, Ryan Holden, serving in Afghanistan.

The students in the reading classes of Holden and teacher Karen Pratson decided to send letters to the soldiers in Infantry Division 2-27, known as Charlie Company “Comanches,” which is Ryan's unit. They collected donations of holiday gifts and sent letters to the soldiers just before the holiday.

“Because Mrs. Holden's son is serving overseas and is away from home this holiday season, it got us all thinking about the soldiers and their families,” said Karen Pratson, who teaches a seventh-grade reading class. “Many students know someone who is serving in the armed forces, and know the severity and the consequences that go along with serving, and realize the efforts put forth by American troops serving all around the world,” she said. “Working with Mrs. Holden is a continuous reminder of the stress and constant worry of the families back home,” Pratson added.

In their letters, the students asked the soldiers questions about their families and their daily lives, in the hopes of receiving an answer.

Sophia Austin and Andrew Drozd, two students in Pratson's class, were among those who sent letters to the “Comanches” in Afghanistan. “We asked them questions – how do they like it over there, does the food taste good, what gun is their favorite?” said Sophia, 12.

“We told them about ourselves and we asked them about the family members they have that they have left behind,” Andrew said.

Eric Caromile, who also teaches seventh- and eighth-grade reading, said the project gave the students a glimpse into the lives of military families. “It reminds them that not all families can be together for the holidays, and how hard that can be,” Caromile said.


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