Northside Continues to Fight Leukemia with Annual Awareness Event
By Adrian Garces
Northside continues to support the fight against leukemia with its annual Leukemia Awareness event, which took place on Wednesday, Oct. 23. This year included Kahoots about teachers involved, including Mr. Christopher Pagani, Physical Education Department, Mr. Jeffrey Mallon, Social Science Department, and Mr. Charles Milbert, Social Science Department. Audrey McManus, Adv. 900, gave a touching speech about her personal experience with Leukemia and why events like this matter. The event was organized by Jama’ah Club and MediClub. Steve Jaimes, Adv. 911, who in previous years cut the hair of students and teachers alike, could not cut the hair of students due to a change in CPS policy. Thanks to the quick thinking of both the MediClub and Jama’ah Club boards however, a licensed barber was able to come in for 30 minutes to cut students’ hair. In this short amount of time, both Madeleine Alexander, Adv 008, and Sage Hesse, Adv. 103, were able to get their heads shaved.
The event began with McManus giving a speech describing her brother, Brian McManus, Northside class of 2017, and his battle with leukemia. She told the inspiring story both of his fight and her journey to come to terms with it. The speech was eloquent and heartwarming, leaving the entire auditorium in awe of her strength to speak about something so personal. Yonatan Derbew, Advisory 908, said “ I enjoyed the speech because I thought it was powerful and emotional, along with being a good way to start the event.”
After her powerful speech, Jaimes began shaving teachers heads’. Starting with Mr. Pagani, Jaimes shaved heads as attendees played Kahoots quizzing them on their knowledge of the teacher being shaved. Kahoots included prizes for the winners: shirts from both MediClub and Jama’ah Club. Jaimes said that his favorite part of the event was “the conversations with teachers while the Kahoot were going on, [and] getting inside info.” Jaimes also commented on his return as the event’s official barber, saying “After seeing my eighth grade teacher as the barber for the Leukemia Awareness Event my freshman year, I knew I wanted to do it, and sophomore year wasn’t the best so that’s why I started junior year. I got asked to do it and was open to do it, feeling good about cutting teachers’ and students’ hair.” Jaimes plans on coming back after graduation to continue his legacy as the barber for this event.
Teachers involved in the event included first time shaver Mr. Mallon, and returning faculty Dr. Andrew Loria, Science Department, Mr. Gregory DiFrancesco, Science Department, Mr. Michael Myers, Social Science Department, and Mr. Pagani.
Mr. Milbert, is a returning participant, and was in the very first Leukemia Awareness event five years ago. Mr. Milbert talked about the experience of coming back to participate after taking a five year break. Mr. Milbert said that he participated the first time after his wife’s mother died from cancer and he learned that a former student of his was diagnosed with leukemia. She is now doing better and is one reason for him to shave his head. In addition to his past motivations, Ms. Milbert returned this year because someone important to him has terminal brain cancer. He appreciated the event’s atmosphere saying, “I thought the event took a subject that can hit very close to home for a lot of people and be very heavy topic, and made it fun time for everyone, and I loved feeling very inspired and not depressed.” Mr. Milbert was part of the reason the event was so lively; he not only had a smile on his face the entire time, but he also brought his son on stage.
Unfortunately, because Jaimes is not a licenced barber, he was not able to cut the hair of students, so a licensed barber, Marvin from Marv’s Barber shop, kindly came in for thirty minutes to cut students’ hair. Although many people wanted to have their heads shaved, only Alexander and Hesse had the chance to participate. Alexander said that having a crowd was not what she was expected, saying, “I wasn’t nervous about doing it in front of a crowd and I was happy because it made it funnier.” She then described the actual experience saying, “Feeling my hair falling off of my head, it was really surreal honestly because I’ve never had hair this short.”
The event as a whole was a success and raised more than $1,300. The President of Jama’ah Club, Mohamed Lotfi, Adv. 901, said “We usually have humble goals so we hope for something like $500 on a good day, but this year we completely exceeded our expectations thanks to everyone who came.” Lotfi continued saying, “All money goes to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help patients and fund research to find cures for this terrible disease.”
Picking the best moment from this year's Leukemia event would be impossible. With so many highlights, ranging from seeing fellow classmates and teachers getting their heads shaved, to Dr. Loria’s infamous karate picture, the event was interesting through the end. Exemplifying Northside’s unique and caring environment, the event is something that many can look back on as inspiration.