More than 10 years ago, H.L. Johnson Elementary School had two students sick with cancer: Alyssa Marconi and Kyle Leaver. Fast forward to 2013, and the simple act of collecting pennies to honor a sick classmate has become a legacy. For more than 10 years, the school has consecutively participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s School & Youth Programs. The school will be given a special award at the School District of Palm Beach County board meeting June 19.
Marconi was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 1997, two weeks before starting kindergarten. Her teacher, Andrea Swisher, registered the school for the Pennies for Patients campaign. “I remember collecting the penny boxes and running them through the coin machines,” recalled Alyssa’s mom, Susan Marconi. “We were blessed to be at that school.”
Marconi is now a healthy 21-year-old working on her master’s degree. She looks forward to becoming a school psychologist.
Leaver, a healthy and active student at Royal Palm Beach High School, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2001. After undergoing chemo and being home-schooled, he returned to H.L. Johnson in 2003.
Even after these two students moved on, H.L. Johnson Elementary has never stopped giving. From 2003 to 2013, the school raised $22,161.
“When we had a student who was our inspiration, that homeroom teacher led the campaign,” Principal Sharon Hench said. “When our inspiration students aged out, our guidance counselor along with the peace patrols from each class carried on the tradition.”
For more information, visit www.schoolandyouth.org/pb.