By Elise Franco
Debbie Calcagni, kindergarten teacher at Watson Elementary in Austintown, took a pie to the face Friday during a special assembly for the students. Calcagni was one of 10 teachers to be pied as a “thank you” to the student body, which raised money during a three-weeklong campaign for Pennies for Patients.
Watson Elementary School teachers took pies in the face to show solidarity with students who raised money to fight cancer.
The student body spent three weeks participating in Pennies for Patients. Th e kids collected change at home and were involved in school- sponsored fundraising events on campus, said Christina Palmer, second-grade teacher.
Palmer said the staff hasn’t counted the donations yet, but the money will be given directly to Pennies for Patients through the coin-counting machine Coin Star.
“Every student got a coin box to take home and fill up,” she said. “We also had a special fundraiser [last week] during lunch.”
Students were asked to raise an additional $100 during lunch and were awarded with a special assembly on Friday for surpassing that goal.
Palmer said 10 teachers agreed to take pies in the face because students did so well with the fundraising effort.
“We raised more than $150 at lunch, which means you guys must really want to pie us in the face,” Palmer said to a cafeteria full of cheering students.
She said Pennies for Patients has raised more awareness among younger students.
“They’re becoming more aware of people their age who have or have had cancer,” Palmer said. “They can recognize that it happens to kids in their own school.”
One such student is Stevie Pateras. Stevie, who is 8 and in Palmer’s second-grade class, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 3.
Palmer said he was named the “Honorary Hero” for the duration of the Pennies for Patients campaign.
George Pateras, Stevie’s father, also agreed to be a part of the assembly. He encouraged a group of students to shave his head.
“The teachers are getting pies in their faces,” he said. “So this was something fun I could do with the kids.”
Watson Principal Sheila Palombo said she was impressed by how well the students did with the campaign.
“This is life, and it’s important to be willing to give at any age,” she said. “And, boy, were they gracious givers.”