Over lunch period, Logansport teenager Myles Gilsinger used to pull small pranks on his mother’s friend, Logansport High School teacher Kasia Minnick – like hiding the chair she habitually took while having lunch with friends in the school nurse’s office. She’d laugh at him, he recalled.
These days, though, he’s focused his energy on a fundraising and support effort for Minnick.
Myles, 17, and members of LHS’s Student Council recently began selling royal blue T-shirts emblazoned with “Team Minnick” on the back in support of the longtime Logansport government teacher, who was recently diagnosed with a serious form of colon cancer.
LHS Principal Matt Jones recalled going to each of Minnick’s classes Sept. 17 to inform her students of the diagnosis. Jones described Minnick as one of the seniors’ favorite teachers.
Although Myles hadn’t had Minnick as a teacher, she’s a family friend, he said. And when she began taking days off of teaching, “we knew something was wrong,” he recalled.
He and other students had suspected cancer.
“You put pieces together and you figure out this might be a possibility ... you honestly don’t want to accept it because it’s someone you care about,” said Myles.
A 1993 graduate of LHS, Minnick began her 17th year teaching at her alma mater this fall. She has sponsored the school’s student council, according to Jones, and was involved with many of the council’s projects, including homecoming. She also participated on LHS’s school improvement team and formerly coached girls’ golf.
After her diagnosis, “her first concern with Mr. Jones and I was her students,” said assistant principal Lindsey Hagerty. “Even from home, she’s still up to date on where her students stand.”
Myles wanted to find some way to support Minnick, and with his mother hit on the idea of making T-shirts.
“Sub Debs had fundraisers for breast cancer and I felt that as a student body we needed to do something for her,” he explained. Working with the student council, he aimed to have shirts worn during homecoming – which Minnick has helped with for many years.
And the shirts “just took off,” he added. “Everybody wanted the shirt.”
The shirts are blue to match the dark blue that is associated with colon cancer awareness. Students, faculty and staff bought them both to show their support and contribute funds to help cover Minnick’s medical costs. Many wore them for homecoming, when they were also sold alongside Sub Debs’ pink breast cancer awareness shirts.
After homecoming, the shirt sales raised about $240, according to Myles. The shirts are still available through Creative Promotions at 506 North St. and students and staff wear them periodically on days announced beforehand over the school intercom. They were slated to wear the shirts again today.
“We have such a strong, tight-knit school community that really looks out for each other,” said Jones, who had his “Team Minnick” shirt in his office Thursday in preparation for today. “It tells a lot about [students’] leadership to take things on to help others.
“She’s a very important part of our staff and we think about her a lot,” he added.
Word has gotten back to Minnick about the T-shirts. And they’re doing just what Myles intended them to do.
“She was honored because during homecoming night, that was Kasia’s thing. She was always in charge and running it for student council,” said Myles’ mother Shantel Cuppy, a close friend of Minnick’s. “To have students support her, that’s powerful for her. And she feels the love, I can tell you that.”
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME