Teachers put on a very special end-of-year ceremony for children who are "fighters"
In this photo from last year's end-of-year event, MESD's teachers don handmade caps and gowns as they tell stories about their students' accomplishments. After the ceremony, students march through the tenth floor and visit with nurses and hospital staff who hand out prizes, treats and congratulate them on their success.
The tenth floor of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital may not seem like a typical graduation setting. But for children receiving treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses, it is both their temporary home and the place in which they attend school.
At 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 7, MESD Hospital School teachers Debbie Mettler, Anna Balmaseda and Margaret Eng will hold a graduation ceremony for about 15 students of all ages.
With handmade caps and gowns, personalized stories about each student and a ceremonial march throughout the tenth floor, the event is lighthearted, touching and a remarkable exercise in what makes us human, vulnerable and resilient.
For some students, a trip to the classroom on that day may be out of the question since they can be tethered to medical equipment or recovering from a procedure. In that case, said Debbie, MESD staff will bring the ceremony to them.
Graduates may be moving from kindergarten to first grade, or from seventh to eighth grade. In some years, the staff have even recognized those graduating from high school.
“Our students may miss out on the end of the year parties and activities,” said Debbie Mettler. “We make sure they know we are proud of them and that we recognize their accomplishments.”