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DuPont Hadley students honor cancer survivors, including a fellow student

DuPont Hadley MiddleFifth graders at DuPont Hadley Middle Prep are honoring one of their own, along with all cancer survivors, in a heart-warming project that will raise awareness and serve as a valuable lesson in the classroom. The "CELL-a-brate" project came together as a way to recognize DuPont Hadley fifth grader CiCi Collins, who is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a rapidly growing tumor of the central nervous system (including the brain and spinal cord), in May 2006. Following surgery, CiCi underwent six weeks of radiation and was then declared cancer free.

In August 2012, the cancer had recurred, and CiCi underwent chemotherapy and radiation. The tumor is now considered stable with no signs of growth. CiCi will continue having regular checkups at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

In a true display of project-based learning, students have spent classroom time examining cancer cell slides and learning how cancer cells grow and multiply. To help them in their research, Jeannie Tuschl, Program Coordinator for the Volunteer Scientist-in-the-Classroom Partnership Program, brought in volunteer graduate students from Vanderbilt University to work with the fifth grade middle school students.

The big event for this project-based learning experience is a spaghetti dinner that the students put together to raise awareness and support for pediatric cancer research. It happens this Friday, December 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the DuPont Hadley food court. Students, parents and community members are all invited to attend. Donations will be accepted, with all money going to cancer research.

During dinner, students will show off what they've learned while working on this project, like scientific research and exploration (studying healthy cells and cancer cells), literacy and writing skills (writing about what they've learned), and even math and economics (developing and sticking to a budget for the spaghetti supper).

What an amazing way to celebrate a brave young student - among many brave young cancer survivors - who truly has a warm home and second family at her Metro Middle Prep.