August 16, 2013

Youngsters interact with troops in Afghanistan


WILLSBORO — Where is Afghanistan? 

“Far away,” a pre-kindergarten student at Willsboro Central School called out. “Far away.” 

After some prompting, another volunteered, “Really far away.”

The little students may be too young to have any concept of geographical distances, but in their hearts, they have a feeling of helping bring joy into the lives of others.

One recent school day, their teacher, Linda Jacques, showed them the location of Willsboro on a globe and, on the other side of the world and across oceans, Afghanistan.

However, to many, a large body of water is Lake Champlain.

But they know two soldiers who graduated from Willsboro Central School are in that far off place, Afghanistan. 

The pre-K students have exchanged letters, pictures and packages with Matt Sayward and Jake Reynolds throughout their deployment.

The packages contained a variety of items, including coffee, trail mix and, most importantly, items the students made. 

Valentines cards were also a big hit. 

The students also sent the class mascot, a Snuggle Puppy, to Sayward and Reynolds.

The soldiers photographed the stuffed toy with other members of their unit and various locations and then returned it to Willsboro.


Matt’s wife, Jessica Sayward, is overwhelmed by the support from the school. 

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s made life easier for me and our family.”

Jacques, she said, had both boys as students. 

Jessica is able to Skype from home and also receive emails from time to time when Matt is not in the field.

Willsboro Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said the pen-pal project is great for the students. 

And, he said, “it has helped our graduate soldiers who are serving our country to be able to communicate with our students. 

“We look forward to having them safely back in the North Country.”

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