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Pink Day is a fitting end to Barringer’s breast cancer efforts

Fourth grade teacher Sue Biltucci (left) watches 500 balloons drift into the sky in honor of her friend and coworker kindergarten teacher Diane Cotton, who is battling breast cancer.

Fourth grade teacher Sue Biltucci (left) watches 500 balloons drift into the sky in honor of her friend and coworker kindergarten teacher Diane Cotton (right), who is battling breast cancer.

Barringer Road Elementary School’s Pink Day celebration on Friday, Oct. 17 took an expected turn. As students and staff were busily forming a giant pink ribbon on the slope behind the school, Barringer kindergarten teacher Diane Cotton stepped around the corner of the building. The hillside erupted in cheers and clapping at seeing Mrs. Cotton, who is on a medical leave as she battles breast cancer.

The day’s giant pink ribbon, 500-balloon launch and mini Making Strides walk wrapped up a month of breast cancer awareness and fundraising efforts—this year in Mrs. Cotton’s honor.

Over the last four weeks, staff and students held a lollipop sale, a Halloween basket raffle and a Crazy Hat Day. Teachers paid for the privilege of wearing jeans on designated days. Families purchased pink ribbons to decorate school windows in honor of loved ones who have combated breast cancer. Neighbors and friends pledged in support of Team Diane, teachers who will participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk being held on Oct. 19 at the Masonic Campus in Utica. In all, the school raised almost $2,500.

Pink Day festivities began with asking everyone to come to school dressed in pink to become a part of the human ribbon. Students then gathered around the school’s tree garden, which had been planted with pink flowers—again in Mrs. Cotton’s honor. Teachers handed each student a pink balloon purchased by the PTO. On Principal Jeremy Rich’s count of, “Three, two, one,” they simultaneously released them, filling the gray skies with bright pink dots. Finally, the entire school walked several laps around the building in an elementary-sized version of the Making Strides walk.

Involving students in this cause is an important part of the school’s character education program. Children learn that being a part of a community includes helping others—a lesson that teachers and staff hope will stay with students throughout their lifetimes.