Mohegan School’s pumpkin parade adds a touch of orange to Pink Week

Photo of Brian Gioiele

A pumpkin parade capped Mohegan School’s annual Pink Week push to raise awareness and funds in the battle against breast cancer.

Jones Tree Farm also donated 30 pumpkins, and for the third consecutive year each class, pre-K to fourth grade, decorated the gourds, which went on final display for students and judges alike Thursday during a special assembly in the school’s gymnasium.

The decorated pumpkins will ultimately be donated to the Griffin Hospital Smilow Cancer Hospital. Students and staff raised more than $700 as part of Pink Week, and the youngsters all prepared cards and pictures for the patients undergoing chemotherapy at the cancer center.

Each year, the school hosts a parade that features teachers from each class walking their respective class-decorated pumpkin down the pink carpet in the school’s gymnasium for the judging.

“We are trying to teach children empathy … caring for others,” said school Principal Kristen Santilli. “This program goes along with our Look for the Good Gratitude campaign. Our goal is to teach children how to be good citizens and give back to the community when people are in need.”

Santilli said the school raised the money through a Pajama Day, where each student paid $1 to wear their sleep gear to school. There was also a day for staff to wear pink, donating funds in the process. All money raised goes to the Valley Goes Pink campaign.

“This is always emotional … it is for such a good cause,” said Julianne Staffieri, a special education teacher at Mohegan School and a breast cancer survivor. “This helps raise awareness and support. There is good in it. It's all good, which was my motto as I was going through it myself.”

As the pumpkins were paraded down the pink carpet, the judges — Board of Education member Kathy Yolish, district Supervisor of Special Education Beth Smith, retired teacher Nancy Burns, retired teacher Deb Perman and Frannie Leonard and Tracy Perry representing the Valley Goes Pink — held up their scores for the cheering children to see. The top three winners got prizes.