PIQUA — Recently, Piqua Central Intermediate School came together to hold a “lime green-out” in support of a student fighting cancer.
Shelby Lockhart, a Piqua Central Intermediate School student, has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood, for around two years. Last year, the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation gave Shelby’s room a makeover for her “special wish.”
This year, her school reached out to show their support. The process started with asking Lockhart what her favorite color was — lime green — then the show of support grew to wearing lime green t-shirts, with the staff wearing ones that said, “We can beat this together.”
Students and staff also decorated the halls with messages of support and love on pieces of lime green paper cut out in the shape of ribbons. In one area, they even decorated the wall with those cut-outs to spell “fight.” The school also put a care package together for Lockhart while she is undergoing treatments.
“We wanted to rally around her,” Kathy Graeser, Lockhart’s homeroom teacher, said. Graeser’s class also wore the same type of medical masks that Lockhart has to wear at school.
“We wore masks to make her feel like she’s not alone,” Graeser said. “We just really wanted to lift her up and make her feel special.” Graeser added that Lockhart seemed “touched” and “pleasantly surprised.”
“I think it’s amazing,” Vice Principal Ross Loudenback said, adding that he was “very proud to be a part of it.”
Michelle McNeill, the school nurse, commented on Lockhart’s inner strength, admiring everything that she sees Lockhart going through, such as the physical pain of going through chemotherapy and the emotional impact of living with cancer.
“You just look at the whole picture and you’re like, wow, this little child, how strong is she to go through things I may never experience or many of us may never (experience)? And (you) just say, ‘You know what, it’s just so awesome that we just want you to know that we love you, we care for you, and we want to support you, and we want you to know that we’re here for you,’” McNeill said.
McNeill said that both Graeser and she noticed that, on the lime green-out day, Lockhart “had a smile and spring in her step that we hadn’t seen in a while.”
McNeill added that the students were also reaching out to Lockhart, telling her that they were thinking about her and giving her high-fives or hugs in the hallways when they saw her. McNeill said that this experience and how the school is responding to Lockhart is teaching the students to “genuinely care” about one another and to “embrace the differences” between individuals.
“I think it’s just about caring about people,” McNeill said.
When asked what kind of impact Lockhart has left on the school, McNeill paused and said, “I think a lasting one.” McNeill expressed admiration for Lockhart, saying “She’s just an amazing little girl.”
Then, when asked about the impact knowing Lockhart has had on McNeill, McNeill said, “I think I’m really blessed to be the nurse … I think I’m blessed to just meet her and know her.”
“To me, it was one of the most emotional presentations,” Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said. “It was so amazing to see that the students had come together, the staff had come with so many ideas, and it had just started off with a simple conversation and turned into a great moment for this child and the family.”
Thompson commended the students and staff for their support of Lockhart, saying that it revealed who they really were and what the school was really about.
“Just to see that our students care and they’re sure to include each other and they’re inclusive, I think just says a lot about the culture in this school and leadership,” Thompson said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336