Thursday, April 3, 2003

Fifth-graders write to local serviceman

Published in the Current

Students in Sally Connolly’s fifth-grade class at Cape Elizabeth Middle School are writing letters to Senior Airman Matt Janson, a 2000 graduate of CEHS now serving in Qatar with the Air Force.

“I think it’s nice that he went,” said one member of the class. “I think he’s being really brave,” another said. The letters they wrote included “positive things,” one student said. Others wrote about baseball season, the snow melting and, above all, “we’re thinking of you.”

They send him letters regularly. Last week’s shipment was on paper headed with the word “spring,” which students colored in. They also sent him Valentines in February, to help keep his spirits up, and many of the kids are closely on top of what he is doing.

E-mail messages from Janson’s parents, now living in Maryland, keep the class up-to-date. The kids know Janson is living in the desert in a tent and loads bombs on airplanes for work, though he wants to be a pilot.

The students are also on top of the war, for as young as they are. They know where Iraq is on a world map and know that Iraqis are surrendering in some places and fighting in others. They watch TV with their parents and have trouble with “foreign names” and “big words.” The kids think there is too much coverage of the war, and that it has become “boring” to watch.

It’s not just a faraway war, either. “My babysitter’s husband is a medic,” said one boy.

They also know there are kids their age in Iraq, who are scared and don’t have food or clothes.

“Nobody wants war,” said one student, who went on to say that it’s important to support the troops.

The students want other classes in the school, and elsewhere, to adopt service members. “I think more people should write letters,” said one student.