FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Local students are compiling their questions for soldiers serving overseas and learning a foreign concept to most— a handwritten letter.

After being introduced three years ago by Ma Murray teacher Meagan Bracey, the Christmas Letters to Soldiers campaign has students thanking soldiers for their service and bringing up any curiosities they may have. Bracey believes it broadens their horizons.

“It’s just a chance for students to get an idea of different positions in the world. Students don’t really know much about our armies, and they don’t really know a lot about the outside world. So it’s just an idea to bring the outside world into the school,” said Bracey, who is also running the school’s leadership club.

The students ask a range of questions in the letters relating to the country the soldier is in, their job, and what it’s like for children in that area.

“It just opens it up to so many [inquiries]. Kids want to know about this type of world, and this type of world, and what it was like during the war, and wars happening today.”

Last year, over 200 letters were sent to soldiers worldwide, as most of Ma Murray’s 343 students take part in the campaign every year. The majority of teachers at the schools use it as an exercise to teach students how to write a letter properly.

“I had a few [students] start writing letters to grandparents and stuff afterwards.”

Bracey has a deadline of December 1st for all the letters to be completed before sending them out as part of care packages for the soldiers.

In January, Major Ryan Salsbury, who is stationed in Juba, South Sudan,  joined a school assembly via Zoom to thank the school for the letters he received and answer questions.

Over the past week, Ma Murray students have participated in different activities to honour soldiers and veterans ahead of Remembrance Day.

Earlier this week, first and second graders stopped by the local legion to plant flowers for the veterans to enjoy for years to come.

Grade 1 students also created some artwork to honour veterans.

“We are taking on kindness and towards others as a goal this year. Especially t quiet acts of kindness, which are things that we do intentionally to help others. We see this as a great opportunity for our students to develop empathy, relationships and to see themselves within a larger community,” said the principal of Ma Murray, Kathy Scheck.