As part of Relay for Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, P.S. 264, the Bay Ridge Elementary School for the Arts, 371 89th Street, celebrated the memory of former teacher Merideth Wos, who lost her battle to leukemia this past November. During the event, held on Thursday, December 8, faculty, students, parents and friends gathered in the schoolyard and paid their respects by purchasing luminaria bags and lighting them, creating a new spin on the Light Up Eastern event.
Wos meant a great deal to the school and it was important to do something special to pay tribute to her, according to Principal Patrice Edison. “Everyone has had a family member friend touched by cancer. In June, one of our teachers was diagnosed with leukemia, and it took a very radical course and she passed away just a couple of weeks ago,” Edison said. “It was a huge loss for us. She was a young woman in her early 40s with so much to live for and she’s been an important member of our community, so it hit home and hit us hard. So when Relay was promoting tonight’s event, Ms. [Joann] Rizzo and the rest of the Relay team took the challenge and decided to go full steam ahead with it. I’m just happy to support them.”
Wos, a Bensonhurst native, had a reputation of always going the extra mile for her students. “She was a very special teacher to all of us,” said parent Shirley Chin. “We are so sad about what happened to her. When my daughter had a bad day, (Wos) was the first person to hug her. In October, she spoke to her on the phone. Ms. Wos was an alumna of Mark Twain School and my daughter is going there soon, and she gave her advice, which was really great.”
“Since our school began, we’ve been involved in a lot of charitable activities,” Edison added. “For the last several years, the focus has been on Relay for Life, which is a big focus for all the schools in District 20, so we spent a lot of time and effort and family involvement.”
According to the principal, last year P.S. 264 raised over $20,000 for Relay, despite being a small school that seats only around 500 students.
Physical education teacher and Relay for Life Coordinator Rizzo was touched by the event and large turnout to remember the beloved teacher.
“Doing fundraisers like this means more than people can imagine to me,” she said. “Cancer has affected too many people, so any dollar amount we can put towards putting a stop to it helps. Before, we were raising funds for the greater good of the community, but now it hits home for all of us.”