Independent TribuneFeatures Lessons beyond the classroom

Lessons beyond the classroom

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By Jonathan E. Coleman
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Earlier this year, it would have been difficult for Amy Hicks to imagine a more humbling tribute than walking into spirit week at Central Cabarrus High School on “What’s your cause?” day.

“On that day, every faculty member wore pink and they had on buttons that said, ‘We love Hicks.’ It was sort of overwhelming,” Hicks recalled.

In November, Hicks, a teacher at the school, was diagnosed with breast cancer, just months after her mother had been diagnosed and had begun treatments for the same.

“That was really the motivation to get checked,” the 43-year-old said of her mother’s diagnosis. “It was really a blessing in my life because we caught it early.”

Like her mother, Hicks had surgery and began radiation treatments to fight the cancer.

In the months since her diagnosis, she has gained a new appreciation for life, and for the countless students, faculty and friends who have offered their support.

The latest offering came Saturday morning as members of Central’s FFA club hosted a breast cancer walk in her honor.

“When you hear that Mrs. Hicks was diagnosed, it really hits close to home,” said Brandi Hinson, a senior FFA member who helped organize the walk. “I felt like this would be a great event for FFA to do to help raise money to help find a cure.”

As a group gathered near the start line, Hicks thanked them for their support before cutting a ribbon that stretched across the track to start the walk.

Students, faculty and friends circled the school’s track, many wearing pink ribbons, T-shirts or other mementos as an outward show of support. Some scribbled messages of support for Hicks in sidewalk chalk. Others simply drew pink ribbons.

“She’s what we did it for,” said senior Callie Terry. “She’s the best teacher I had in high school. She was your friend, then your teacher.”

As much as Hicks has touched the lives of her students, breast cancer touches the lives of so many, Terry said.

“It’s something that affects everybody,” she said. “It’s not just the women that have it.”

Since her diagnosis, Hicks said she’s spoken to many students and staff at the school who have, in some way, been affected by breast cancer.

“At lot of these kids have a personal reason for being here,” she said. “It’s touched their family. I’ve been touched by their stories.”

Touched, she said, and inspired.

“Often times when you hear those stories, you hear stories of people who have gone through harder times than you, and that provides inspiration,” she said.

As part of the walk, the FFA club held a plant sale, offered games, food and other activities to help raise money.

It was the first of what Hinson said she hopes will become a regular event.

“We are going to try to do it every year,” she said. “We have enough underclassmen here who are learning what worked well and what didn’t.”

And, in the end, it was an event that Hicks said she was proud to lend her name to, and again, humbled to be a part of.

“Any time someone takes the time to do something kind for you and show love to you, it’s an honor,” she said. “It’s one of the good things that comes out of things like this — having breast cancer.”

• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at 704-789-9105.


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