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IB done, another Relay for Life and senior comments

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HE'S IN IT, FOR LIFE

BY BREA HOLLINGSWORTH

Osceola Fundamental High

Every year when the city of Seminole hosts its Relay for Life celebration you can find Osceola Fundamental High Spanish teacher Ernie Whalen walking the track.

"I've been supporting Relay for Life for 13 years," he says proudly as he prepares for this year's event, May 16-17. "I love doing it because it makes me aware of how many people are survivors of cancer."

Whalen is one, too. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the throat at the age of 51.

"It was hard at first. I suffered from sore throat and lymph nodes, but I maintained a positive attitude. I became more patient."

He said his goal for Relay for Life is to get students motivated and involved, and to spread awareness, as he does with the support group for throat cancer patients that he organized.

"I let them know how bad it's going to be, and how hard it is on the body. However, squamous cell carcinoma is (highly) curable," with a 95 percent survival rate, he said.

"Señor Whalen puts his heart into Relay for Life," said Spanish Club co-president Sabrina Bousbar, who is a junior. "He is never a quitter, but a fighter and survivor every day."

Whalen is now cancer free.

"In order to overcome this disease, you have to keep a positive attitude, good nutrition, and also have an awesome caregiver," Whalen said, referring to his wife. "My grandson has been my biggest supporter for Relay for Life. (He) has been there to participate ever since he was three months old."

Osceola Fundamental High's Spanish Club Relay for Life team has 22 members, whose original goal was to raise $2,500 at the event. They are already so close that, however, that Whalen has boosted the goal to $4,000 as a challenge.

Senior Ashley Carvalho, a member and Relay for Life participant, is impressed by Whalen. "I admire his unyielding dedication to supporting other survivors and current patients. He did not let his cancer beat him; he turned it into one of his greatest strengths."

WE'RE FREE, SORT OF

BY JOEY HAGER, Palm Harbor University High

and LIZ TSOURAKIS, Hillsborough High

IB students around the world have begun to slog through their weeks of final exams, but many celebrated a freedom of sorts last week to mark the end of regular classes.

At Palm Harbor University, the IBers staged Jailbreak, a longstanding school tradition, and at Hillsborough High the decadeslong tradition is known as Senior Send-Off.

At Palm Harbor, students arrive to begin drawing Sharpie tattoos on each other. Heart tattoos cover arms, with the names of teachers replacing the traditional "Mom." Knuckle tattoos paid tribute to students past (several wrote "POSS LIFE" in honor of a fallen student) or displayed their IB candidate numbers — the numbers printed on the back of their orange IB Correctional Facility T-shirts, and the identification they will go by for all their exams.

Jailbreak is also a celebration for juniors, who, in a year's time, will be departing for their own exams. Seniors "arrest" juniors. Their sentence? One more year of IB, without possibility of parole.

At Hillsborough High, Terriers took a simpler, yet sappier, approach. IB students of all grade levels assembled in the school's auditorium for the traditional Senior Send-Off; English teacher Sylvia Sarrett read Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, seniors presented awards to the homeroom teachers they'd spent four years with and the Big Red Band played its game day music, bringing many seniors to tears. Finally, the underclassmen lined the aisles, forming a tunnel, and the seniors sprinted through their arms and out of the school for the final time.

ON THE WEB

YOU KNOW YOU'RE SAYING THIS

Read these responses to our 2012 Sh*t Seniors Say video, then add your own at tb-two.com. Scan the code to get there fast.

SHE CAN'T GO ANYWHERE

WITHOUT GRANDMA

Go to tb-two.com to check out the Times story of Newsome High junior Niyah Finlayson, whose family was determined to stop the three-generation pattern of teen pregnancy.

he's in it, for life

Every year when the city of Seminole hosts its Relay for Life event, you can find Osceola Fundamental High Spanish teacher Ernie Whalen walking the track.

"I've been supporting Relay for Life for 13 years," he says proudly as he prepares for this year's event, May 16-17. "I love doing it because it makes me aware of how many people are survivors of cancer."

Whalen is one, too. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the throat at age 51.

"It was hard at first. I suffered from sore throat and lymph nodes, but I maintained a positive attitude. I became more patient."

He said his goal for Relay for Life is to get students motivated and involved, and to spread awareness, as he does with the support group for throat cancer patients that he organized.

"I let them know how bad it's going to be, and how hard it is on the body. However, squamous cell carcinoma is (highly) curable," with a 95 percent survival rate, he said.

"Senor Whalen puts his heart into Relay for Life," said Spanish Club co-president Sabrina Bousbar, who is a junior. "He is never a quitter, but a fighter and survivor every day."

Whalen is now cancer free.

"In order to overcome this disease, you have to keep a positive attitude, good nutrition, and also have an awesome caregiver," he said, referring to his wife. "My grandson has been my biggest supporter for Relay for Life. (He) has been there to participate ever since he was 3 months old."

Osceola Fundamental High's Spanish Club Relay for Life team has 22 members. Their original goal was to raise $2,500 at the event, but they are already so close to that goal that Whalen has boosted the goal to $4,000 as a challenge.

Senior Ashley Carvalho, a member and Relay for Life participant, is impressed by Whalen.

"I admire his unyielding dedication to supporting other survivors and current patients. He did not let his cancer beat him; he turned it into one of his greatest strengths."

Brea Hollingsworth, Osceola Fundamental High

IB students around the world have begun to slog through their weeks of final exams, but many celebrated a freedom of sorts last week to mark the end of regular classes.

At Palm Harbor University High, the IBers staged Jailbreak, a longstanding school tradition, and at Hillsborough High the tradition is known as Senior Send-Off.

At Palm Harbor, students arrive to begin drawing Sharpie tattoos on each other. Heart tattoos cover arms, with the names of teachers replacing the traditional "Mom." Knuckle tattoos paid tribute to students past (several wrote "POSS LIFE" in honor of a fallen student) or displayed their IB candidate numbers — printed on the back of their orange IB Correctional Facility T-shirts — as the identification they will go by for all exams.

Jailbreak is also a celebration for juniors. Seniors "arrest" juniors. Their sentence? One more year of IB, without possibility of parole.

At Hillsborough High, Terriers took a simpler, yet sappier, approach. IB students of all grade levels assembled in the school's auditorium for the Senior Send-Off; English teacher Sylvia Sarrett read Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, seniors presented awards to the homeroom teachers they'd spent four years with and the Big Red Band played its game day music, bringing many seniors to tears. Finally, the underclassmen lined the aisles, forming a tunnel, and the seniors sprinted through their arms and out of the school for the final time.

Joey Hager, Palm Harbor University High and Liz Tsourakis, Hillsborough High

WE'RE FREE (SORT OF)

on the web

YOU KNOW YOU'RE SAYING THESE THINGS

Read these responses to our 2012 Sh*t Seniors Say video, then add your own at tb-two.com. Scan the code to get there fast.

SHE CAN'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT GRANDMA

Go to tb-two.com to check out the Times story of Newsome High junior Niyah Finlayson, whose family was determined to stop the three-generation pattern of teen pregnancy.

Every year when the city of Seminole hosts its Relay for Life celebration you can find Osceola Fundamental High Spanish teacher Ernie Whalen walking the track.

"I've been supporting Relay for Life for 13 years," he says proudly as he prepares for this year's event, May 16-17. "I love doing it because it makes me aware of how many people are survivors of cancer."

Whalen is one, too. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the throat at the age of 51.

"It was hard at first. I suffered from sore throat and lymph nodes, but I maintained a positive attitude. I became more patient."

He said his goal for Relay for Life is to get students motivated and involved, and to spread awareness, as he does with the support group for throat cancer patients that he organized.

"I let them know how bad it's going to be, and how hard it is on the body. However, squamous cell carcinoma is (highly) curable," with a 95 percent survival rate, he said.

"Señor Whalen puts his heart into Relay for Life," said Spanish Club co-president Sabrina Bousbar, who is a junior. "He is never a quitter, but a fighter and survivor every day."

Whalen is now cancer free.

"In order to overcome this disease, you have to keep a positive attitude, good nutrition, and also have an awesome caregiver," Whalen said, referring to his wife. "My grandson has been my biggest supporter for Relay for Life. (He) has been there to participate ever since he was three months old."

Osceola Fundamental High's Spanish Club Relay for Life team has 22 members, whose original goal was to raise $2,500 at the event. They are already so close that, however, that Whalen has boosted the goal to $4,000 as a challenge.

Senior Ashley Carvalho, a member and Relay for Life participant, is impressed by Whalen. "I admire his unyielding dedication to supporting other survivors and current patients. He did not let his cancer beat him; he turned it into one of his greatest strengths."

Brea Hollingsworth, Osceola Fundamental High

IB done, another Relay for Life and senior comments 05/07/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 10:55am]
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