November 22, 2013
A Season of Thanksgiving
Isabelle Chappuies turned eight years old on October 26. Turning eight is a pretty special event. But this birthday was extra special. Because in September, Isabelle Chappuies took her last chemotherapy treatment, and for the first time in over two years, she has been declared cancer free.
In the February 24, 2012 district newsletter, I shared the following in my superintendent’s message:
Ottawa Hills Schools French teacher Matt Chappuies and his wife, Holly, a teacher at Eastwood Schools, will not soon forget the summer of 2011. Their five-year-old daughter, Isabelle, was experiencing ongoing sickness and stomach pains. On July 22 their world was turned upside down when Isabelle was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). ALL is a fast growing cancer of the white blood cells, so chemotherapy treatment began immediately. ALL has a 90% cure rate, but the treatment regimen takes twenty-six months. Since the initial diagnosis, Isabelle has had a number of stays at the Toledo Hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatments. But she has also embarked on another journey as a kindergartner at Eastwood Schools this school year. According to her dad, “She’s excited about school like any six-year-old would be. She would go to school every day if she could, but there are days she just isn’t up to it. She has matured beyond her years, that’s for sure. Most of the time she is more concerned about our feelings than herself. She has her moments because she’s still a normal kid, but for what she’s going through, she is a champion. She inspires us all.”
Mr. Chappuies remembers those first days when everything happened very quickly. “We found out on a Friday, and on Monday, “Belle” was in surgery to insert a
port to accommodate the various injections she would receive in the coming months. We were being pushed to go on a journey we didn’t want to take, but there was a twenty-six month road map that was laid out for us. We had some choices that we could make as far as the protocols and studies we wanted to be involved in, and we had some guidance on the best course of action we should take. But the most important choice was how we were going to react as a family. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction. We tried to remain as positive as possible. Our job was to stay focused on the job at hand. At first we asked ‘Why did this happen?’ But then we focused on ‘How?’ How are we going to fix this? We didn’t dwell on the WHY. Our job was to stay focused on
the HOW. We knew that the medical part of it was in the hands of people who know what they’re doing.”
And so ensued over two years of treatments—daily oral chemotherapy coupled with IV treatments every few weeks. About every three months, Isabelle would have a surgery for a lumbar puncture. Mr. Chappuies describes it as a procedure that keeps IV chemotherapy that is shot directly into the spinal cord from shooting into the brain.
“It’s a long process,” recounts Mr. Chappuies. “We had to digest it in chunks. When we’d look at the road map, we’d see where we needed to get to, but we also saw what we had to go through to get there. We took it a step at a time, and we celebrated the milestones along the way. Through it all, we didn’t stop living, and that’s something that kept our spirits going.”
But at times, the realization of what their Belle was going through was overwhelming for Matt and Holly and Belle’s brother, Jack. “There were scary times when her numbers started doing weird things. As non-medical people, we’d start digging into the medicine and the science and we’d begin to doubt the road map. But then we’d get it together and remind ourselves: ‘We’re going to beat this.’ It’s called hope. It’s an amazing thing. It keeps you going.”
One day that stands out in Mr. Chappuies’s mind was on the eighth day of Isabelle’s initial hospital stay when they received 15 prescriptions from the doctor. On that day, Mr. Chappuies shared his thoughts on Isabelle’s Caring Bridge website:
"The scripts are handwritten in typical doctor penmanship. They look no different from any other RX until you realize what they actually say. Fifteen scripts of nasty, wonderful stuff that will begin to make its way into our daily routine in our new world. Imagine pouring Roundup on your most beautiful flowerbed in the world… The flowerbed is a masterpiece mosaic to the naked eye in its intense beauty. The weeds are there. The weeds will eventually destroy the flowerbed until the last stem falls to the dirt. This Roundup is special. Our flowerbed will take on some collateral damage for sure. It may even become tattered. The special Roundup for this job will seek out the roots of these nasty weeds and take a few show specimens on the way. The soul of this garden will ache. The eye will see a far different picture than accustomed to. The plants themselves will struggle to survive. A nasty season or two will linger over this once magnificent garden. But the plants will remain strong. The planters will remain vigilant. The admirers will keep coming to see the most spectacular garden ever created. The true magnificence of this garden will never leave. The roots of the weeds will go away forever. The magnificent glory of this garden that never really left will be restored to its full glory."
And so the beautiful flower named Isabelle has successfully taken on the weeds and survived the onslaught of a life challenge that shouldn’t belong in the realm of someone so young and
vulnerable. The Chappuies family has navigated a road map that has led them through a series of rough roads, detours, hills, and valleys. But on the other end of their forced journey, they find plenty for which they can give thanks.
“Going through this has given us a new-found sense of family,” shares Mr. Chappuies. “There was a bond that the four of us created. It’s like we put a shell around Isabelle—but she had so much more support than that. She had Holly’s family and my family, our work families, our friends. We had this circle of support from people who know and love us, but there were also people who came into our circle that we didn’t even know before. But they had experienced something similar and wanted to provide support. People were constantly asking, ‘What can I do?’ Their support regenerated our batteries.”
Make-A-Wish® contacted the Chappuies family, but they decided that they didn’t want to take a big trip during Isabelle’s treatments because they wanted her to be well enough to enjoy the experience. However, Belle did experience some special moments along the way. Mr. Chappuies notes, “She loves the show Cake Boss, so when Buddy Valastro came to visit a local Kroger, she got to meet him. Channel 13 followed her around when she was princess for a day and got to go to Disney On Ice. She was honored as one of the ‘Faces of Cancer’ at the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball in September. She’s a big American Girl fan, so she got her own doll—Kanani. Because of Kanani and
because she’d received gifts from a cousin who lives there, she became intrigued with Hawaii. So next summer, we’re going to take our Make-A-Wish® trip to Maui. Of course, we’re excited, but it’s just one more example of how our community comes up big to help out kids like Isabelle.”
The Chappuies family knows that there are more miles to travel, as Isabelle will continue on with tests to monitor her progress. The doctors will continue to check things such as bone structure density, and the development of her heart and other internal organs. But for now, and especially as we approach this season of Thanksgiving, they pause to reflect on their many blessings.
Mr. Chappuies notes, “We’re in awe and appreciation for how much people care. People ask, ‘How did you do it?’ We’re just a normal family, struggling with all the things that families struggle with, but we were forced to take this path. Now that we’re on the other end, we can say that we’re incredibly blessed.” Mr. Chappuies counts his wife, Holly, among his greatest blessings: “She is the rock in my life that has never wavered. She is the one who holds it all together behind the scenes. Her maternal instincts are unparalleled, and she is the most compassionate and driving force in my life.
My children have been blessed to have her as their mother as I am to have her for my wife. Going through this ordeal has not been easy, but having Holly in our lives has made it possible. The times that I crumbled on this journey, she put me back together - and for that I am so thankful!”
So as Isabelle Grace Chappuies begins her year of being eight, it gives us pause to join with the Chappuies family in giving thanks for all that is good and right with the world. It is the season of counting our blessings. A season of Thanksgiving.
Happy Birthday, Isabelle.
The Curtain Goes Up Tonight On "The Merchant"
The curtain will go up on OHHS's fall production "The Merchant" with a 7:30 performance tonight. Additional performances are tomorrow, November 23, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 24, at 2:00 p.m. All tickets are General Admission for $10 and can be purchased until 12:00 noon today in the high
school ticket office or one-half hour before each show in the theater box office.
The Merchant is an ancient Roman comedy, by one of the most revered comic playwrights in history. Plautus's slapstick comedy pits father and son against one another as Charinus, son of merchant Demipho, returns from abroad with the stunning Pasicompsa, a slave whom Charinus had purchased because he's in love with her. It's love at first sight for Demipho, who devises a plan to snatch Pasicompsa away for himself. Father and son separately enlist the help of their friends and servants, and the tension rapidly builds and hilarity ensues as espionage occurs, doors slam, and general idiocy prevails. The situation is complicated even further when Demipho's and his friend's wives get involved. The plot comes to an appropriate end of melee, complete with wives attacking husbands with cookware and food, cooks chasing the wives, and Charinus getting his girl... or does he? This fast-paced, side-splitting farce makes for one entertaining night at the theater!
"Celebrate America" Tour Comes to O.H.
On Wednesday morning, many Ottawa Hills students, parents, and special guests woke up bright and early to be in the high school auditorium for a 7:00 a.m.
presentation by former Ohio State football player and NFL wide receiver, Roy Hall, as part of the "Celebrate America" tour. The "Celebrate America" tour sends dynamic speakers across the country to challenge and inspire audiences to promote positive values. The events are sponsored by local organizations, businesses, and corporations, meaning there is no cost to the school system.
Roy Hall spoke to the audience about growing up with a mother who was determined to be a positive role model because his father was an absent father who led a life of heroin addiction. A 4.0 student in high school, he went on to graduate with honors from Ohio State, earning a degree in
marketing. He was a five-time scholar athlete award winner. A key member of the 2002 Ohio State National Championship Team, he played four years with the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions. He is founder and President of the Driven Foundation. His message to the audience spoke of respect, perseverance, character, integrity, and success.
Executive Producer of "Celebrate America," Brett Bohl, graduated from the University of Toledo and was a defensive back on the Rocket football teams coached by Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel. In the mid-nineties, Brett also coached the Ottawa Hills Junior High football team. His brother, Nathan, and sister, Heidi, both graduated from OHHS. Brett is co-author of the book, Getting to Thanksgiving
, a novel which features Ottawa Hills.
District Phone System Up and Running
Earlier this week, the district was encountering problems with the phone system. Those issues have been addressed, and the phone system, including voice mail, is working. Thank you for your patience this week as we worked to resolve the issues. We're ready to hear from you!
September SPACE Students Shine
At Ottawa Hills Junior High, S.P.A.C.E. stands for Self Control, Patience, Acceptance, Collaboration and Encouragement. The following students were recognized by their 4th period teachers as
being "S.P.A.C.E." worthy students for the month of September:
Alex Peseckis, Nora Ayad, Sam Szyperski, Grace Rotman, Priya Varanasi, Colin Rowe, Nora Ayad, Anna Brandstatter, Jack Yark, Charles Cassis, Abbie Hauck, Connor Pellegrini, Ella Musher-Eizenman, Annie Mintun. Not pictured but recognized were Tessa Koury, Matt Sherman, and Zoe Behnfeldt.
Thank you students for showing that Green Bear Pride everywhere you are! These students were given a certificate and recognized on the announcements in the beginning of October.
Art Teachers Display Original Work
Works by OHHS art teachers Kristin Johnson and Steve Wipfli are currently on exhibit at the UT Center for Visual Art Gallery adjacent to the Toledo Museum of Art. The "Northwest Ohio High School Art Teachers Invitational" or NOHSATI has been organized to run concurrently with the Ohio Art Education Association State Conference being held in Toledo.
Kristin Johnson is showing three of her ceramic pieces based on bird-like forms. The pieces were created as part of her thesis for her recently completed Masters
degree in Art Education. Steve Wipfli's two works "Morning" and "Evening" are paper collages using handmade and machine made papers from around the world. He uses art papers, craft paper, gift wrap, packing materials, and bookbinding supplies to create the colorful abstracted landscapes. The exhibit runs through December 14.
Liberty Memorial Speakers Series Sponsors Veterans Day Assembly
On Monday, November 11, Dr. Lance Talmage addressed the entire student body for our second annual Veterans’ Day assembly. Dr. Talmage
spoke to students about the importance of leadership, teamwork, and service to their community and country. Many thanks to Steve Bobak, Social Studies Department Chair, for helping to organize the event and to Student Council President, Michael Geisler, the second recipient of the Liberty Memorial award, who introduced our guest. Last, thanks to Dr. Talmage for sharing a truly inspirational message and for serving our country.
Fascinated with French History
As a part of Jessica Temple's ninth grade World History unit on the French Revolution, the honors students were asked to create 3-D models that represented the estate or class system under
the Old Regime. Ms. Temple asked faculty and administrators to vote on the most creative 3-D representation as well as the most accurate display of the French class system. Pictured are the winners, Nolan Greeley and Paulina Mendez, with Ms. Temple and their models.
Hasan and Rand Represent OH in BGSU Honor Band
Eighth graders Alizeh Hasan and Will Rand participated in the BGSU Honor Band on Friday, November 15. One hundred eighteen students from all around Ohio were selected to play in the all day event. Students rehearsed throughout the day to prepare their concert. The band performed a variety of pieces that included When Summer Takes Flight
and A Call for Peace
. The students also had an opportunity to share the stage with the BGSU Wind Symphony, the top band at Bowling Green. Bravo to our OH musicians, and thank you for representing our school!
Exploring STEM at BGSU
On Friday, November 15, Mr. Aigner, Mrs. Silvers, and Mr. Solomon took a couple dozen junior high school girls to BGSU for the annual Women In
Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) day. Students enjoyed doing hands-on activities, met inspiring role models, and learned the requirements for scientific careers. All of the girls gained some interesting insights about science, technology, and their futures. Students first heard from keynote speakers from the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta. The girls then broke up into groups and participated in a variety of hands-on activities, including developing fingerprints with forensic scientists, screen-printing T-shirts, designing and building models of extraterrestrial rovers, and making water bottle tornadoes. Many thanks to Nicole Silvers and Brandon Aigner for organizing the trip to BGSU. Thanks to parent chaperones Jonathan Behnfeldt, Oleg Smirnov, Angela McClure, Cindy Hoeflinger and Elizabeth Shawaker.
Austin Charles--Chuck Close Style
Kristin Johnson’s junior high art students have completed gigantic painted portraits of one of their classmates while learning about the life and work of New York artist Chuck Close. Close's work, "Alex," is one of the highlights of the Toledo Museum of Art's modern collection. His remarkable technical skills and his personal story of life as a learning disabled, and eventually a physically disabled person are inspiring. The project begins with a photograph of a student, which is cut up into small squares. Small groups of students are responsible for enlarging one square into a large portion of the painting using a proportional grid system. Collaboration is essential in the process, as is the understanding of light and shadow. The finished painting of Austin Charles is hung at the end of the main hallway in the school, allowing viewers to enjoy the dramatic work at many distances. To learn more about Chuck Close, read his interview in The Village Voice
by clicking here
Band UNIFORMraiser is a Success
On Saturday, November 16, Green Bear Nation turned out to support the Marching Band at an all-you-can-eat breakfast at the Village Inn. A very big
thank you to Nick Tokles of the Village Inn who let us practically take over his restaurant on Saturday morning as we packed the house and filled our stomachs. Nick generously donated the food so all the ticket sales would go straight to helping buy more uniforms for the fast-growing Ottawa Hills High School Marching Band. There were 230 tickets sold and about $1,500 in donations. Many thanks to parents and band liaisons Sherri and Jeff Cousins and Teresa Leinweber for coordinating this event. It's amazing to see the how this community is helping the band march towards even greater success! If you weren’t able to attend, but would like to contribute please contact Teresa Leinweber at Tleinweber@OttawaHillsSchools.org
8th Grade ACT EXPLORE Test Wednesday, December 11
The ACT Explore Test, which was previously scheduled for November 19, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, December 11. All 8th Graders will be taking this test in the morning with a normal “C” day class schedule in the afternoon. This test is used to help with career exploration and college decision-making.
Parents are encouraged to make special efforts to have their children in attendance and to see that students are well rested and eat a nutritious breakfast. Encouraging self-confidence and minimizing test anxiety are ways to help students succeed in any test-taking situation.
If you have any questions regarding this test, please email Mark Nusbaum at email@example.com
Artsonia Goes Live for OH Students
The Ottawa Hills Artsonia page has been launched! Please take a moment to browse our gallery. If you want to preserve your child’s artwork in a personal way, family members can purchase keepsakes imprinted with the child's artwork. Artsonia donates 20 percent of their annual product revenue back to school art programs. Artsonia products personalized with your child's artwork will make great holiday gifts! Check out our link at http://www.artsonia.com/schools/school.asp?id=74181
Fifth Grade Girls Give Back
This week, the girls of the fifth grade had the opportunity to give back to those in need. Students gathered over lunch to make baby blankets for homeless
women and children. The students worked in pairs on their fleece tie blankets, enjoying good friends and feeling good about helping others!
Parent Teacher Conferences and the Scholastic Book Fair Celebrate Success!
This Thursday and Friday, parents were able to enjoy a few moments with their child’s teacher to learn about their progress so far this school year. Many good conversations were had, including the 5th
grade’s student-led conference conversations.
While at school for conferences, families had the chance to browse the Scholastic Book Fair in the main entrance of the elementary building. Students showed great excitement for the new adventures that awaited them in the pages of their new books.
6th Graders Off to Camp Storer Monday
graders are excited to be packing their duffel bags and creating “bed rolls” for their 3 day, 2 night stay at Camp Storer next week. Many outdoor adventures will be had while students have a chance to strengthen relationships with their classmates and build relationships with OH High School students who are accompanying our 6th graders as camp counselors. Along with our 6th
grade teachers, Darcy Browne, our school counselor, will be attending, and our principal will be stopping out for a visit as well. Sgt. Chris Sargent, our school's DARE Officer, will also accompany the class. Have a great time 6th
6th Grade Band Performs for Students
On Wednesday, the 6th
grade band members performed the Ohio State University and University of Michigan Fight Songs for students during the lunch period. These students provided a wonderful performance under the direction of Mr. Leeds, our band director. Our band students hit all the right notes and helped our students prepare for the annual showdown between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines one week from now!
Elementary School Parent/Teacher Conferences Elementary School Closed
Ottawa Hills HS Theater Department presents “The Merchant"
Ottawa Hills HS Theater Department presents “The Merchant"
Ottawa Hills HS Theater Department presents “The Merchant"
Girls JV & Varsity Basketball @ Rossford HS
Elementary, Junior High & High School
In partnership with our community,
Ottawa Hills Local Schools
will challenge and inspire each student
to realize his or her unique potential;
to embrace learning as a lifelong process;
and to become an active, responsible citizen.
Be thankful for what you have;
you'll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don't have,
you will never, ever have enough.