Payton Truc, left, and William Page helped to write the letter to send in the package to the students at Hornby Island Community School. (Contributed)

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

A recent fire at a Hornby Island elementary school hit close to home for a teacher in Maple Ridge.

Michele Neale, a Grade 1/2 teacher at Glenwood elementary, heard about the fire while watching Vancouver Island news at home.

Neale, who was raised on Vancouver Island and whose family has summer homes on Hornby Island, said that’s why the event stood out to her when it came on the television.

“In a small community like on Hornby Island, the school is more than just a school, it’s your community centre, it draws people together, it’s devastating for an island,” said Neale about why she decided to talk about the event in her classroom during the first week of school.

The fire at Hornby Island Community School broke out in the early morning hours on Aug. 26 and heavily damaged the school deeming it unsafe to use for the upcoming school year.

READ MORE: Charge laid in Hornby Island school fire

Neale’s class made up of 18 students that she had the previous year, who were waiting for the new class configurations to move into their Grade 2/3 class, decided to write a letter to the students displaced from the fire.

“We talked about how sad they would be feeling and the things they would be missing from their classroom (if there was a fire),” explained Neale.

And after her students indicated that they would miss the loss of books the most, Neale decided to purchase a few books to send along with the letter.

“We were sad to hear about your school fire,” began the letter addressed to the primary children at the school.

“We know fires can be scary and do a lot of damage. We wanted you to know that we are thinking about your loss. We also wanted to bring some joy to your school lives. We know books make us happy, smarter and better readers. We thought some new books could help rebuild your classroom collection. We hope you have a good year,” the letter continued, signed by the students in division 14.

The students picked out the books for Neale to purchase including Pig the Star by Aaron Blabey, The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, Elephant and Piggie and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.

Neale sent off the package Sept. 14.

“We just wanted to show them that there are people out here that care about what happened to you and that this was just a little token to show we are thinking of you and hope you have a good year,” said Neale.

Students Payton Truc and William Page helped to write the letter to send in the package.

”We felt bad about their school. I would probably cry if it was my school. I would want other people to be kind to me,” said Payton.

“We wanted to show kindness and to make some new friends,” noted William.

Since the fire, a 25-year-old Comox Valley man has been arrested and charged with arson in relation to the fire.

More than 40 students had to start off the school year at Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre on Hornby Island.

Comox Valley Schools have since leased Room to Grow and the community hall from the Hornby Island Educational Society and Hornby Island Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association for use from Monday to Thursday each week until a new permanent space is available.

Neale says her class learned how important kindness is and how you don’t need to receive something back for an act of kindness.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Aldergrove Star editor Sarah Grochowski up for an Emmy Award

Her 2018 documentary segment Highway Mike covered the opioid crisis in Harlem, New York

Riverdale actress rescues puppy from Langley shelter

American actress named her adopted pup Milo

EDITORIAL: Fraser Health needs to be transparent to fight coronavirus panic

Fraser Health and other authorities are not helping by being vague in recent communications

St. Patrick wins Junior Boys Basketball Provincial Invitational Tournament in Langley

Coach called ‘game winner’ play that had mnever worked before. This time, it did.

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Cypress Mountain offers free lift tickets March 13 in honour of snowboarding pioneer

Jake Burton Carpenter invented the sport of snowboarding

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read