A local school pays tribute to those that have fallen to or survived cancer.
On Tuesday, December 5, P.S. 264, the Bay Ridge Elementary School for the Arts, 371 89th Street, held its second annual Light Up Brooklyn ceremony, which raises funds and awareness for Relay for Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Students, parents and faculty gathered inside the school’s gymnasium to light up luminaria bags they purchased using glow sticks. Each bag had its own inspirational message written on it by students.
The night was dedicated to the memory of former teacher Merideth Wos, who lost her battle to leukemia a year ago.
Principal Patrice Edison discussed the efforts the school has made to contribute to the noble cause.
“Our school is only eight years old, but in that time we’ve been very active in Relay for Life activities,” she said. “It’s personal for all of us. We had a staff member who died just last year of leukemia about this time. I had a cousin who died of breast cancer just a few years ago. We have a cancer survivor among our student population and staff. This is something that is profoundly important to our community. In just a few years, we’ve raised well over $60,000 for Relay, which is a staggering amount considering we’re a school of under 500 students.”
Edison also spoke about Wos and the impact that she had on the school.
“We still have kids who were part of Ms. Wos’s class and who still talk about her,” she said. “We encouraged all the kids to come [to the event]. They know what it stands for. So many of them have a family member who has battled cancer, and they understand how deadly this is.”
“Last week was the one year anniversary since [Wos] passed so today is a tribute to her,” added physical education teacher and Relay for Life Coordinator Joann Rizzo. “Our success with the bags has been even better. We’ve raised close to $500 which goes to Relay for Life; last year, our ending amount was about $23,000 for the year.”
While last year, the event was held outside, this year, due to rain, the event was moved from the schoolyard to the gym where a song dedicated to Edison’s cousin Laura, who died of breast cancer, played throughout the event.
“[Laura’s] son Jacob is a musician and he wrote this song shortly after her death,” Edison said. “It really brought home to us how seriously we need the world to take this and understand that this disease is killing people at all stages and ages of life who have so much to offer.”
The school will continue to raise funds for cancer research.
“It is so important that we continue our effort,” Edison said. “This is just the beginning of the year. Relay events will continue all throughout the year culminating in the Relay in June.”