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Indian River teacher receives school care packages in Afghanistan

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PHILADELPHIA — Indian River Central has the largest population of military-related students in the north country.

The district’s high school also has a teacher, Daniel Prusinowski, in the Army Reserves, who left for Afghanistan in September. The school community keeps him included by shipping care packages to him once a month.

Family and Consumer Science teacher Linda S. Elcsisin said her Independent Living special education class raises money for postage through popcorn sales every Friday.

“I’m really big on community service in the class,” said Mrs. Elcsisin. “Dan is a part of us. When he’s here, he always has a smile on his face. We need to let him know he hasn’t been forgotten.”

On Tuesday, she had the students pack three boxes stuffed with snack cakes, jerky, instant noodles and crossword puzzles donated by students and staff.

The Independent Living class helps students become more mainstreamed by teaching life skills. Through the popcorn sales, the students learn how to deal with money and interact with others.

All the money from the popcorn sales is always donated, whether it is for care package postage, relief efforts in Haiti, buying yearbooks for students who cannot afford them or raising money for a staff member with breast cancer.

Mr. Prusinowski, a biology teacher, was deployed two years ago, and English teacher Sarah L. Booker said the school also sent him care packages then.

She has been carpooling with him from Lowville for about 12 years.

“He’s the commander’s right hand man as far as the hospital goes, but he does all of the back-of-the-house work,” she said.

The packages give Mr. Prusinowski a brief break from his military duties to pass around all the goodies he receives to his military coworkers. In the past, he has gotten a school sports jersey and letters. Mrs. Booker said Christmas cards may be included in the next package.

In the process, Mrs. Elcsisin and Mrs. Booker hope the community gains a lesson from his service.

“Our military kids, they totally live the war all the time,” said Mrs. Booker. “The other kids are removed enough that they may forget, and we don’t want them to ever forget.”

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