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Poland school community shows support for teacher battling breast cancer; raises $1,000-plus for research

June 3, 2019



Roxanne Przelski and her niece Shelbi Hagues sitting among students wearing pink and white shirts


Poland Central School District social studies teacher Roxanne Przelski and her niece, Poland eighth-grader Shelbi Hagues, (front, near center) pose on Friday, May 31, with a group of Poland students wearing pink and white shirts to support Przelski’s battle with breast cancer. View more photos from the day at www.facebook.com/PolandCSD.





POLAND – When Poland Central School District social studies teacher Roxanne Przelski visited the school on Friday, May 31, she discovered that hundreds of students and staff were wearing pink and white shirts and pink wristbands to support her battle with breast cancer.

She was recognized during an assembly for her at the end of the school day and told that the Poland Student Council raised more than $1,000 to donate to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“This is all so appreciated,” Przelski said, during the assembly. “You guys melt my heart. I miss you. I’ll be back in September, but what I see around here is so awesome. Thank you so much.”

Przelski was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in March this year and has been out of school since. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and hoping to return to school in September.

“I left for a doctor’s appointment and didn’t come back,” she said, after the assembly, reflecting on how long she has been out of school.

Przelski said she didn’t plan on speaking during the assembly, but she saw her students and decided she needed to say something.

“Because I do miss them,” she said.

The Poland Student Council raised money for the donation by selling white shirts with pink print and pink wristbands. About 350 shirts were sold, and they display “Tornadoes strike out cancer” on the front and “Ms. P” with her favorite number “5” on the back. The donation will be earmarked for triple negative breast cancer research.

School efforts to support Przelski were led by the Student Council. The Student Council co-advisors are Guidance Director Janice Watrous and science teacher Kevin Ford. Przelski’s niece, Shelbi Hagues, is a Poland eighth-grader and a member of the Student Council. Shelbi and her mother, Robin Case-Hagues, helped design the shirts.

“I want to thank my niece and sister and Student Council and Janice and Kevin,” Przelski said.

Przelski also commented on the amazing support she has received from the whole Poland community.

“I’m thankful I’m from here,” she said.

Watrous said the school community wanted to do something nice for Przelski.

“It was awesome to see the outpouring of love and support for part of our PCS family,” Watrous said.

The efforts also supported cancer research and tied into Olweus classroom meeting topics, Watrous said.

Poland Student Council President Jamie Weakley also spoke about the connection to Olweus during the assembly – saying that Olweus meetings have covered the topics of responsible decision-making, self-awareness, growth mindset, helping others and community service.

“Today, we gather to show our support for Ms. P and how our school community has come together to help others,” Weakley said. “It is amazing to see how many people are in pink and white. It is amazing to see shirts, wristbands and your care and concern for Ms. P across the last several months.”

Weakley then referenced a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

“It is amazing to see how our small community comes together to help each other during difficult times,” Weakley said.

Weakley then announced the donation to cancer research and presented a card and flowers to Przelski.

After the assembly ended and students were dismissed for the day, Przelski continued to wipe away tears.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “I’m just overwhelmed with kindness. I’m thankful, overwhelmed and so appreciative of all the pink and white I got to see today.”



Roxanne Przelski sitting on the bleachers with Poland teachers and staff who are wearing pink and white shirts


Poland Central School District social studies teacher Roxanne Przelski (front, near center) poses on Friday, May 31, with Poland faculty and staff. Przelski has been out of school since March as she undergoes chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. View more photos from the day at www.facebook.com/PolandCSD.




Roxanne Przelski, Shelbi Hagues and Janice Watrous standing on the gym court during an assembly


From left, Poland Central School District social studies teacher Roxanne Przelski and her niece, Poland eighth-grader Shelbi Hagues, listen on as Poland Guidance Director Janice Watrous speaks at an assembly on Friday, May 31, to show support to Przelski in her battle with breast cancer. View more photos from the day at www.facebook.com/PolandCSD.




A large group of elementary students pose in the cafeteria wearing pink and white shirts


A group of Poland Central School District elementary students poses on Friday, May 31, while wearing shirts to support social studies teacher Roxanne Przelski in her battle with breast cancer. View more photos from the day at www.facebook.com/PolandCSD.