NAUGATUCK — Students and the community are planning to come together to support a teacher in need.
The Naugatuck High School DECA program will host Cruz Night in June to benefit world language teacher Rebecca Cruz. She was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer earlier this year and took a medical leave of absence from her position at the high school. Since then, the school has stepped forward to support Cruz in a variety of ways, including holding a Miracle Minute during DECA’s annual Rip the Runway fashion show.
Cruz Night will be completely dedicated to Cruz. The event will be held overnight beginning at 7 p.m. June 13 and ending at 8 a.m. June 14 on the track and field facility at the high school. The event will be highlighted by a 12-hour walk-a-thon to raise money.
“We thought it’d be a good project to raise money to help her and her family. We also thought it would be a good way to bring the community together, get the school involved, and get the DECA chapter involved,” DECA member Mikayla Healy said.
When people are not walking there will be games for them to take part in, such as kickball, soccer, flag football, ultimate Frisbee and volleyball. The event will also feature an area for musicians to play and food will be sold at Marty’s Place, the school’s snack house. A “Glow Show” tribute to Cruz with purple glow sticks will also take place at midnight.
“We’re trying to gear this towards all age groups, that’s why we have a variety of different things,” DECA member Christopher Yacavone said. “We’re trying to get different groups involved and make it interesting for everyone.”
A large crowd is expected.
“So far we’ve gotten 125 registrations in already and we’ve just started,” DECA advisor and NHS teacher Tim Reilly said last week. “We’re expecting a big, big crowd. We want the public involved.”
In addition to purchasing tickets to the event, high school students are also raising funds on their own for Cruz.
Reilly said he has already handed out 300 fundraising packets to students.
Healy said students who take part in the fundraising can earn a variety of incentives, including free food at the event, gift cards to area restaurants and a season pass to Six Flags New England.
“Students can get other people to donate towards Ms. Cruz if they can’t attend the event. It’s just a way for other people to get involved,” Yacavone said.
Reilly said there are two ways for the public to register for the event. The first way is a form in the May 23 edition of Citizen’s News, which people can fill out and mail back to the school. The second way is to show up and register the evening of the event. However, only those who pre-register are guaranteed a T-shirt, Reilly said.
The DECA program will also be looking to drum up support from local businesses.
“I’ll be going with the kids to businesses in the area, looking for sponsorships. We’ll have signs, like at a gold tournament. They will be placed on the tennis fence so, as people come in, the business will be prominently displayed,” Reilly said.
Healy said so many people have stepped up to help Cruz because of the type of person she is both in and out of the classroom.
“She was not only a great teacher, she was always there for you if you ever needed to talk about your family, friends, or any problems you were having. She always wanted to hear the good things that were happening as well. She was always very involved in wanting to know what was going in the different aspects of your life,” Healy said.
For more information, email Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org.