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Student T-shirt campaign supports cancer-stricken teacher

Published: Wed, May 2, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


Delaney Bresnahan, left, and Emma Hartshorn, both eighth-graders at Canfield Village Middle School, created “Team Reel” T-shirts to sell in support of Ken Reel, their American History teacher who recently was diagnosed with cancer.

By Elise Franco



A cancer diagnosis for one of Canfield’s most-beloved educators is causing a stir among students, staff and community members.

Ken Reel, 65, was diagnosed in February with T-cell lymphoma, a rare form of the cancer that affects the body’s T-cells. The absence of Reel, a 44-year veteran of the Canfield school district, hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Delaney Bresnahan and Emma Hartshorn, both eighth-graders at Canfield Village Middle School, wanted to do something to honor Reel, and the idea came to them during a discussion about the best-selling novel and movie “The Hunger Games.”

Bresnahan said they started talking about the merits of being on “Team Peeta” versus “Team Gale,” when they realized they were neither. Peeta and Gale are two of the story’s main characters.

“We were talking about The Hunger Games and somehow came to be talking about Mr. Reel,” Hartshorn said. “Delaney had the idea that we were “Team Reel.”

The girls ran with the idea and created T-shirts to sell for $10 each in honor of their American History teacher.

The black shirts bear the words “Team Reel” on the front and “Disperse ye rebels ...” on the back. The saying is from the American Revolution and a favorite of Reel’s. The girls said he would shout it out to students as they walked past his classroom.

Bresnahan said they expected a handful of friends and classmates to buy the shirts and planned to donate the money to a charity of Reel’s choosing, but after word spread of their endeavor they ended up with more than 400 orders for shirts.

“We did not expect the response, but we’re so happy,” she said. “It’s amazing how it’s branched out to all over Canfield.”

Sabrina Eaton, a teacher at CVMS, said she joined the girls’ efforts and is now working to form a Relay for Life team to walk in Reel’s honor at the relay in Austintown on June 1 and 2.

Reel declined to speak directly with The Vindicator but told Eaton that he would be more than happy to see the T-shirt sale money go back to the relay and American Cancer Society.

“Mr. Reel is so humbled by all of this,” she said. “He said that for students to remember him after he’s been gone for a couple months, that they actually thought of him was touching.”

Hartshorn and Bresnahan said they’re glad the idea has evolved because Reel is the most-deserving man and teacher they know.

“He’s made such an impact, and he’s funny,” Hartshorn said. “He makes each class exciting, and it’s one reason why we want to learn from him.”

Those interested in purchasing a T-shirt for $10 should contact Kristin Hartshorn at kharts@msn.com.

For more information about the Relay for Life team, contact Sabrina Eaton at seaton@canfieldschools.net.


1MrYikes(14 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I had Mr. Reel as a teacher many many years ago. I remember on one occasion I was twirling a pen in my hand and somehow the pen launched into the air. The ink-pen missile fell just shy of hitting Mr. Reel. I was terrified (former students will know what I mean). He got very serious and then accused me of a "failed assassination attempt". A few seconds later he cracked a smiled and we went on with class. Aww, what a guy. Mr. Reel is one of those special teachers you'll remember for the rest of your life.

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2WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I had Mr. Reel in 1974-75. He must have been in his first year or two of teaching. I always thought he was the best history teacher I ever had; even the American History prof in college didn't teach us as much about the American Revolution as Mr. Reel did. He also seemed to enjoy coaching us girls in touch football. I think he got a real kick out of us.

A couple of years ago, I ran into him at the polling station in Austintown on election day and I asked if he used to teach history at Canfield Middle School, to which he responded that he was STILL teaching. I told him I'd make him feel young and introduced my college-senior son to him, saying how much I loved his class. He seemed to be quite humbled that I would remember him so many years on.

I will keep him and his family in my thoughts and prayers. Best wishes, Mr. Reel.

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3jd324(1 comment)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I had the honor and privilege to be in Mr. Reel’s class. Some 25 years later, I still recall many of his classes, the lessons he taught and the respect he commanded. He inspired us to be good students as well as good citizens. Through high school, the police academy, my BS and MS, Mr. Reel is still the very best teacher I have ever seen in a classroom.

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4chiefjeffams129(5 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Coach Reel is the most professional and sportsmanlike coaches I have ever coached against. You wouldn't know if his team was winning or losing by his demeanor. He never ran up his scores when having great teams. I have been coaching 12 years and have never met a classier act than Ken Reel. Get better. You're in my prayers.

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5Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Great teacher , And super kids

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6Kovz(1 comment)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Very touching and thoughtful by the students. Could not agree more with the comments on here. I had Mr. Reel back in 1998. He was the most intimidating but most respected teachers I've ever had. He knew how to make learning American History fun. His teaching style was very serious, but he knew how to make his students laugh at the same time.
Thank you, Mr. Reel, for being a standup teacher and one that so many of us will remember forever. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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7walter_sobchak(2723 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

My son had him in 8th grade and, when he applied for scholarships for college, went back to the middle school and had him write reference letters. He also took the time to write a personal letter to my wife and I about my son and I will never forget it.

This is a dedicated teacher that has concern for his students and makes history come alive for the kids. In every student's life, they come across a teacher that makes an impression and a difference in your life. Ken Reel is such a man.

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