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First graders support classmate; show that they are “Ali Strong”

| May 1, 2018

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Meet Mrs. Bango’s Loudonville first graders; “North Colonie Kids Care” April 2018 feature.

It’s always a wonderful thing when a community comes together to support one another; it is even more wonderful when that community is a group of first graders.

When Loudonville first grader Ali Bawla was diagnosed with Leukemia, his classmates surrounded him with love and support.

While Ali was out of school for his treatments, his classmates banned together to make him videos, cards, handmade books and posters as a way to support and cheer him up while he was away from the classroom.

“We made him lots of cards that said ‘We hope you feel better!’ and we made him puzzles from pictures we drew,” said Jack Ryan, a first grader in Mrs. Bango’s class. “I thought it was a fun idea to put it back together in order to figure out what it was.”

Many Loudonville teachers also joined in and helped to make a special superhero cape with the Leukemia ribbon on it for Ali’s birthday.

“It’s really cool and makes me feel strong,” said Ali. “I like to offer to share it with people because someone else might want to feel strong.” 

At one point through his treatment, Ali started wearing a hat due to him losing his hair, but he was never made to feel any differently around his classmates. In fact, they encourage him to be himself. Ali specifically mentioned a day when his head was very hot from wearing the hat and he just wanted to take it off. One of Ali’s classmates and friend, Charlie Wolf, encouraged him to take it off.

“I told him, ‘We love you, you can take off the hat,'” said Charlie. “We didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable when he didn’t have to.”

Additionally, the families of all the classmates have shown great support for Ali and his family. Many have put together gift baskets, sent toys, and worked around treatment schedules in order to plan play dates.

With the strong support and encouragement from Mrs. Bango and her first grade class, Ali has been able to proceed with as much normalcy as possible when he is in the classroom.

“Throughout Ali’s treatments there are times where he cannot have choices or control,” said Mary Beth Nichols, a Library Clerk at Loudonville and a Child Life Specialist who works with children and families through the challenges of hospitalization. “But in Mrs. Bango’s classroom, he can make choices and just be himself. He can be a first grade student.”

“It’s inspiring to see such empathy and compassion coming from first grade students,” said Nichols.

The class will be recognized at the May 21 Board of Education meeting. Congratulations to Mrs. Bango’s “Ali Strong” first graders for being recognized as North Colonie Kids Care recipients for April!

Looking for a way to support Ali? He is being honored at the 9th Annual Nick’s Run to be Healed 5K on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at the Clifton Commons in Clifton Park hosted by the Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation. Learn more here:

Category: District News, Loudonville

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