Sixth-grade student Jose Lopez was diagnosed this past spring with Leukemia after Denkmann’s school nurse, Ms. Zimanek noticed an issue with one of his eyes. The school nurse contacted Jose’s mother and got him into an eye doctor that day. Jose is currently in Peoria receiving treatment.

Principal Versluis asked students and staff to bring any spare change they had and if the school was able to raise 2,021 dollars by the end of this month he would get a mohawk. Staff added more incentives to raise money and said whichever staff member collected the largest amount of money would shave their head. The school surpassed the goal within just a few days!

“As a Leader in Me School we really strive to follow the 7 Habits of Effective People and habit 5 is seek first to understand then to be understood which is really all about empathy and caring about each other and really truly listening and figuring out the situation and then trying to help solve the problem or support a situation and that’s what we did here,” said Principal Versluis.

Last week Principal Versluis shaved his head at school into a mohawk and then on Wednesday, September 29, Jose’s teacher, Ms. Kerr, Ms. Zimanek, and one of the building’s paraprofessionals, shaved their heads at a special assembly.  Jose got to watch over Zoom.

At the assembly, the school announced they raised more than $4,000! Plus another $7,000 from a GoFundPage Ms. Kerr started! In total, the family will receive more than $11,000! All proceeds will go directly to Jose’s family to cover medical and transportation costs.

“We are a caring, compassionate unit of people working together whether it’s in learning situations, a recess situation, and in this case collecting money for a family in need. We came together as a family to support them and I think that says a lot about who we are as a school unit and a family,” said Principal Versluis.

The school presented a check to Jose’s grandmother and aunt at the assembly.

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Mr. Versluis getting a mowhawk

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Mrs. Zimanek, Ms. Jackson, and Ms. Kerr

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Mrs. Zimanek, Ms. Jackson, and Ms. Kerr, and Mr. Versluis in the back row

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Back row from left to right: RIMSD School Board President Terrell Williams, Principal Versluis

Front row from left to right: Jose’s grandmother, Jose’s aunt, Ms. Jackson, Mrs. Zimanek, Ms. Kerr

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Rock Island's Denkmann Principal and Staff Shave their Heads for Student Battling Cancer
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.