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Students Show Their Love for Mr. Stellato
Students Show Their Love for Mr. Stellato

1,000 Origami Cranes Made in Secret Unveiled at Gathering

For the past two weeks, students from the Lower, Middle and Upper School held secret planning and activity sessions to make more than 1,000 colorful paper cranes for Head of School Paul Stellato. In a special Upper School Gathering, Student Council President Rakesh Potluri '19, who initiated the crane-making service learning activity as a gesture of love and support, expressed heartfelt thoughts to Mr. Stellato:

Today, we are gathered to recognize a deeply loved member of our community who has been afflicted by the evil of cancer. Mr. Stellato, it so amazing to have you back in our halls with us. On your first day back in this room, you told us that you thought of us throughout your battle, that the love of your students and their freshly baked cookies kept you going. I don't think you've heard this enough, but we thought of you every single day, too. You were constantly in our minds. You are the core of our community, the heart that keeps us true, to ourselves and to each other. Mr. Stellato, we, your PDS family, PreK through Grade 12, love you so, so much. Today, to show you our love, we present to you over a thousand paper cranes made by every single student at Princeton Day School.

Speaking to the assembled gathering after walking to the podium amidst a resounding standing ovation, Mr. Stellato offered his thanks in turn. He shared that his tumor has resolved and is now gone, declaring, "Your love and the caring thoughts you sent our way during my cancer treatment were a significant factor in my recovery." Mr. Stellato concluded, "I believe this in the core of my being."

In addition to sharing how paper cranes came to be a Japanese symbol of hope and peace, Rakesh also recapped several ways the School community has come together for Cancer Awareness Week. "We have all had very different experiences with cancer in our lives, but every single one of us knows someone who has been affected by this disease. This week, students and teachers from all divisions have been deeply involved in events and projects to raise cancer awareness in our community," he noted. "There are lavender shoelaces tracing paths all over campus," he continued, "Schoology is filled with facts about cancer and cancer prevention, and students have been baking for the healthy Bake Share on Friday!"

Tonight's varsity hockey game against Lawrenceville, played at Princeton University's Hobey Baker Memorial rink at 6pm, is a free, public event and an opportunity to show community pride, with many students wearing special game shirts that feature the lavender cancer awareness loop. Meanwhile, the vivid colors of the paper cranes, silently suspended in flight in McAneny Theater, will remain as a campus installation near the School entrance as an enduring symbol of hope, support and love.

Learn more about PDS Cancer Awareness Week, including a slideshow of photos from across the campus showing students working to make paper cranes, at https://www.pds.org/cancerawareness.

- Melanie Shaw

Photo: Rakesh Potluri '19, Head of School Paul Stellato, center, and Trixie Sabundayo, Upper School Head, with student-made paper cranes in McAneny Theater