Seniors Donate Class Trip Funds to Help Principal Fight Cancer

Seniors Donate Funds to Principal With Cancer_-1928904765725719314
KNWA via TODAY– Seniors at a New Hampshire high school raised thousands of dollars to go on a class trip to a New York dude ranch, but instead of spending that money celebrating their graduation, they donated all of it to their principal who is battling a rare form of cancer.

The students spent the last four years doing bake sales and homecoming activities to raise around $8,000.

“I was just astounded by their generosity,” Courtney Vashaw, principal of Profile Junior-Senior High School, told Wednesday, a day after the seniors gathered with her to announce their gift. “I know how hard they worked to try to plan a good last hurrah. For them to make that decision is really a testimonial to the character of the kids.”

Vashaw says that as an educator, “you’re never really sure if your message sinks in.”

“You plant the seeds and hope they flourish but you don’t often get to see the fruits of that labor for a long time,” she says. “It’s pretty remarkable to see that something stuck. Before they even have to make those adult decisions, they’re already doing remarkable things.”

Earlier this month, Vashaw was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer. She waited as long as she could to tell her students, butjust last week she held an emotional meeting with them, informing them of her tough road ahead.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Vashaw said.

Soon after, a group of seniors came up with the idea to donate their senior trip funds to Vashaw. They took to their class’s Facebook page, and the tight-knit group of 41 students voted unanimously to donate the money to their principal and take a smaller trip closer to home.

“When you have an opportunity like that, it’s much better to do that than ride horses at a dude ranch,” said Hunter Leighton, 18, one of the students who first thought of helping the principal.

“Ms. Vashaw really touched us all and influenced our lives,” said another senior, Leanza Hunt, 17. “And we know she would have done the same for us. We wanted to give back to her after she’s done do much for us.”

The money her students raised over the last four years through bake sales and homecoming activities, Vashaw says, gives her peace of mind.

“I will never be able to pay them back,” she says of these seniors, “but it is my full intent to pay it forward.”

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