This month high school volleyball teams have hosted a seemingly countless amount of “Pink Games.”
Raising funds for research and promoting breast cancer awareness is a worthy cause. Families and survivors are willing to share their stories to help.
What happens when the whole school has a story to tell? St. John provides the answer.
The Plaquemine-based school has been preparing for a 6 p.m. Monday “pink” match with rival Ascension Catholic for nearly a year. It started when St. John Principal Cherie Schlatre was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2010.
“This is something we’ve talked about doing for several years, but when our principal found out she had breast cancer, there was really no doubt about it,” St. John coach Chase Mancuso said. “It’s brought a dose of reality for everybody. She (Schlatre) is such an inspiration. I approached Ascension Catholic right away. They’re our rival, but there’s a real connection there.”
Ascension Catholic coach Chandra Ewen was a classmate of Schlatre’s at Assumption High. ACHS agreed to do the match this year. The Donaldsonville-based school also sent food to Schlatre’s family as she began the treatment regimen that included a mastectomy and chemotherapy.
Schlatre told St. John students about the diagnosis at an assembly in November and seldom missed school. She was there on most days to teach an Algebra I class and handle her administrative duties.
“I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received from the whole community,” Schlatre said. “From the beginning I told the students I was going to be honest with them about what was happening with me.
“I’ve never worn a wig or tried to hide it anything. There were days when the students could tell I didn’t feel well. They lift me up. Being at school and teaching a class gave me a chance to be normal.”
As the Division V, District 3 pink event has approached, the preparations at St. John reached another level. It is about more than two teams who will wear pink and play with a pink volleyball.
Schlatre has continued to share her story. St. John has offered a causal dress Tuesday option for students who can pay $1. Of course, a student must wear a pink shirt as part of these causal days.
“When I first started talking to the students, I could tell some of the boys were uncomfortable,” Schlatre said. “But I told them, ?Look this could be your mom or your sister. Or maybe your wife some day. This is something you need to understand.’ “
The St. John football team has gotten involved wearing pink wrist bands and trim. Football coach Tut Musemeche got into the act. Students paid $1 per foot of pink duct tape and were allowed to tape Musemeche to a wall. Seven rolls of duct tape were purchased.
And of course, there’s the match itself. St. John holds a two-game lead over Ascension Catholic and Catholic-Pointe Coupee.
“This one is important for us,” Mancuso said. “We can move a step closer to a district title. We’re communicating an important message, too.”