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What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

Charles C. McLean Public School connects with troops overseas

Lt. Col. Richard Quinn, front row, third from the right, has been chatting with students at Charles C. McLean Public School. This photo was taken in Juba, South Sudan on Sunday, November 18, 2012.

On Friday, November 30th, 2012, students at Charles C. McLean Public School will pack boxes with treats for troops serving overseas. The boxes will be shipped to the heat of Africa and the frigid darkness of Canada’s High Arctic where Canadian Forces members continue to serve.

“My class is providing support to Canadian Forces members in operations around the globe once again this year,” said teacher Heather Jefkins. “In response to postcards addressed to ‘Any Canadian Soldier’, we received replies from two very different Canadian operations – one team working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and another working at Canadian Forces Station Alert on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.” 

Through this effort, the students at Charles C. McLean Public School have acquired pen pals and they are learning more about the work of the men and women who serve in Canada’s military.

Their primary pen pal has been Lt. Col. Richard Quinn, who is the Task Force Commander for Operation SOPRANO in the world’s newest country, South Sudan. He has been answering a variety of questions from the students in the Grade 7/8 class from his base in the city of Juba. 

A career soldier, Lt. Col. Quinn has served in a variety of capacities in operations overseas, including Kosovo and Palestine. He also provided assistance during the Red River Flood and Quebec-Ontario Ice Storm.

“Lt. Col. Quinn volunteered to skype with our class,” said Jefkins. “We will be setting up a video link and will connect with him during the first week of December. His image will be projected on our classroom SMART Board so all students can engage in the conversation.”

Lt. Col. Quinn will be stationed in Juba until the end of the school year and has agreed to continue to dialogue with the class. “He is not only teaching students about his role as a peacekeeper, he is also focusing on what the United Nations is doing to rebuild this African nation after many years of civil war,” said Jefkins.

To show their appreciation, and in the spirit of the festive season, the Grade 7/8 students have been busy gathering items for their "Treats for Troops 2012" initiative.  They have received many donations from individuals and local businesses including Robertson’s IDA (personal calendars), Dr. Bill Studzienny (dental care supplies) and Manitoulin Transport (ball caps).

“Thanks to the generosity of our local community, we have collected enough items to fill a box for each member of the Canadian team in South Sudan,” said Jefkins. “We are also sending a box or two to the troops in Alert.”

Students have written newsletters about the Island and decorated maple leaves explaining why they are proud to be Canadians. A student has also produced a slideshow about Manitoulin Island that has been saved on individual USB drives and will be included in each soldier’s treat box.


Media Contact:

Heather Jefkins, teacher, Charles C. McLean Public School,

Rainbow District School Board, 705.368.7015.