Alvirne National Honor Society Inducts New Members
submitted by Michelle Pinsonneault
On Thursday, November 9, the Alvirne High School Steckevicz Gymnasium was decorated with flowers, candles and 46 National Honor Society (NHS) members bearing maroon and gold robes. Family, friends, and faculty filed in as senior Jacquelyn Lewis played a sonnet on the piano.
The night began with NHS President Kimberlee LaSalle leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Key note speaker, Jane Toohey, then spoke, reminding inductees the importance of parents and teachers.
Next Treasurer Michelle Pinsonneault spoke about leadership; Attendance Secretary Elizabeth Stewart on scholarship; Recording Secretary Samantha Bangs on service; and Vice President Derek Li on character.
“We keep on waiting for the world to change,” was the topic of Bangs’ speech as she explained the members of NHS make an impact in society.
Five candles were then lit, representing each principle and one representing the society. Each current member of NHS escorted a new inductee to light his or her candle. The members formed a circle around the gymnasium. Once everyone had lit their candles, the lights were turned out and senior Cody Johnson led the society in the NHS Pledge.
This concluded the induction ceremony, and the members were led downstairs for a reception at Checker’s Restaurant.
This special night represented the hard work and efforts of students toward their community, academics, leadership, and character. Those who are members must keep a GPA of at least a 3.3.
There is more to this organization than speeches, stoles and a candle light ceremony. The members have to be more than outstanding students. They have to be very well-rounded individuals who are willing to put forth time and dedication to represent Alvirne High School.
Each member must turn in the recorded number of community service hours each month. Members will need to accrue at least 20 service hours per year, with a minimum of one service hour per month.
In addition, members of NHS help sponsor a senior citizen dance and a teacher lunch-in. Members attend state conferences and fundraise with other chapters of NHS for Cystic Fibrosis and additional charities.
Current members Include:
Hudson Receives a Gift from VFW
by Lynne Ober
If you drive on Route 111 and get stopped at the red light at the intersection with the Baptist Church, be sure to admire the new flag pole and flag waving bolding above the cannon in the green.
The old flag pole had rusted at the bottom and could not be repaired. In stepped Hudson VFW Post 5791. They replaced the old flag pole and, at a ceremony on Veterans Day, they dedicated their gift to Hudson.
“We are a diverse people,” said Post Commander Jack Cantara, “and the flag is a symbol of our nation.”
After the new flag was raised, the strains of the national anthem filled the air as the flag proudly flew in the fall breezes.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Rick Maddox thanked the post for their gift to Hudson. “This is a somber day – the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Our young men and women still go off (to war), but it’s also a day of joy and a day of remembering.”
Editor’s note: Last March, the Hudson~Litchfield News reported in a story “In the Blink of an Eye” about the events surrounding a very sick little boy, Justin Bissett, 6, of Litchfield. At that time, Justin had been recently diagnosed with a very rare type of brain cancer called diffuse pontine gliomas. The peak incidence for this type of cancer (age group) is between ages 5 and 10. Pontine gliomas are so rare that only 150 children are diagnosed with this disease each year. While patients, who have pontine tumors have been known to improve dramatically during or after six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the overall prognosis for children with these tumors reflects survival rates of only 12 to 14 months.
At the request of Justin’s parents, Jeff and Darlene, the Hudson~Litchfield News has followed up on Justin.
Dance Like No One is Watching/Sing Like No One is Listening
by Doug Robinson
The rain is pouring and the street is dark. Through the front window of the rain-swept house is a light shining from the living room. The light from the television reflects off the ceiling, against the walls and out to the street, illuminating the black driveway. The reflection from inside the house is coming from someone who is watching television. Justin Bissett is watching cartoons. He is sitting upright, smiling, and laughing as he continues to watch one of his favorite cartoon shows, Curious George. With the clicker in hand, Justin is in control.
As Justin adjusts himself to become more comfortable on the sofa, he has to be very careful of the tubes and medical equipment strapped to his body. He has to be careful not to crimp the hoses, or pull a hose out of one of his feeding ports. Justin has had a port installed into his chest to assist in the administration of his medicine, and he has had a feeding tube medically inserted so that he may receive the nutrients. He has also had a drain inserted into his head, to assist with the drainage of excess fluid which builds in his brain as a result of his brain tumor.
Eight months ago, Justin Bissett was not watching movies, nor did he go to the movies. He could not sit up, nor could he walk. It was New Year’s Day when Justin said “I have a headache.” These three words were the Bissett’s the catalyst that led this family on a series of chain-linked events immediately changing their lives.
Justin’s health deteriorated as he began to get dizzy and started complaining of an upset stomach, too. Justin became more “sluggish, his right foot began to drag, and he favored his left arm,” recalled Darlene Bissett. “I called the doctor and he changed his schedule to see us immediately.”
After examining Justin with these new symptoms, she was told by their doctor, “It appears like he has something in his head, the left side of his head. He has vision problems and he has gait issues. I would not want to hear about this if it were my child.”
Justin was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was located in the deepest part of his brain, the brain stem. Diffuse pontine gliomas, according to information from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, “Brain stem tumors account for 10 percent of pediatric brain tumors. The peak incidence (age group) is between ages 5 and 10. Pontine gliomas are so rare that only 150 children are diagnosed with this disease yearly. Children’s Hospital of Boston reports that ‘there are no known factors or conditions that predispose an individual to the development of pontine tumors” Surgery to remove diffuse pontine tumors “is not generally possible because these tumors are widely spread within the brain stem and can not be removed” according to St. Jude Children’s Hospital
“One day we have a healthy boy, learning his letters, and in the next day, we are told our worst fear, our son has brain cancer and it is referred to as a diffuse pontine tumor,” recalled Jeff Bissett. These tumors affect the cranial nerves, causing symptoms relate to the nerves that supply the muscles of the eye and face, and the muscles involved in swallowing. These symptoms include double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, dropping one side of the face, and difficulty chewing and swallowing,” stated St. Jude Hospital. “The tumor also affect the (side) of the brain, with resultant weakness of the arms or legs and difficulty with speech and walking. Symptoms usually worsen rapidly because the tumor is rapidly growing.”
Following the advice of their medical professionals, the Bissetts took Justin to Dana-Farber Medical Center and to Brigham’s and Women’s hospitals in Boston for his six-week strict regiment of chemotherapy and radiation. While adult patients who have pontine tumors have been known to improve dramatically during or after six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the overall prognosis for children with these tumors reflects survival times of only 12 to 14 months. Justin was so weak that he was transported to Boston for his daily doses of radiation and chemotherapy by ambulance.
Since June 2006, Justin’s follow-up treatment has been administered by the Burzynski Clinic, Houston, Texas. “We are in touch with the clinic daily and we receive Justin’s medication from the clinic. According to The Burzynski Clinic Website, the clinic defines itself as “the Houston Center for excellent cancer care and experimental research on targeted therapy against cancer. Dr. Burzynski and his staff provide groundbreaking, individualized cancer treatments in a caring, positive, and very supportive atmosphere.”
The Bissetts spent three weeks at the clinic in Houston developing, designing, and learning from the medical professionals in preparation of taking care of Justin in their Litchfield home. They learned how to administer the drugs twice daily to his pump which he wears 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They learned how to properly clean and to properly feed their six-year-old little boy, as well as assist him with his trips to the bathroom, every four hours. They learned the medical processes of port flushes, blood draws, equipment operation, and preparing the drugs for use.
Justin continues to have MRIs of his head every eight weeks as his progress is closely monitored. Today, he walks with the assistance of a walker, and he, along with his parents, travels by car to Boston for follow-up tests. “According to his blood counts, Justin’s cancer has been reduced by 45 percent. The tumor in his brain, however, has increased in size and we now may have to consider another operation,” stated Jeff Bissett.
Justin follows a strict diet of specialized foods for his special medical condition. “We spend about $1,000 a month on special foods which are not covered by insurance,” commented Bissett. “I am very thankful to my insurance for picking up the $10,000 a month fee for the clinic.”
“I am also very thankful for all the help and support we have received,” continued Bissett. “As we approach the 12-month mark, I find myself becoming more anxious and more nervous to what the doctors have told us. We don’t talk terminal. My wife, Darlene, daughter Casey, and I are just so thankful for this time of encouragement and support we have received from everyone. We are continuing to fight this disease on all fronts. It is very draining on the family … listen to me, who am I to complain … think about Justin”
Hopefully, Justin will continue to improve. Hopefully, Justin will once again ride his bike, take a spin on his skateboard, play a board game, or throw a ball with his right hand. “I am good at Nintendo,” commented Justin. In the next breath, he states, “I don’t like school. I wish I could read more. Reading is more fun than writing.” And just like any other six year old child, Justin can be heard, “What’s for dinner Dad?”
The values of hope and thanks are visually displayed thoughout their home in Litchfield. The walls of Justin’s home have been stenciled with various verses of encouragement and strength: Things in life that are important are not things, sing like no one is watching and dance like no one is watching.
And sister Casey, when she goes to bed, still recites her prayer of hope and love for her baby brother: “Dear God, please make Justin stronger and healthier so he can get the important medicine that he needs. Please kill that tumor so his brain will get better. We love him so much and need him to stay with us for a long time. Please hear our prayers, God. Amen.”
The Bissetts have created a Website for those who wish to write and sends words of encouragement or to follow the progress of Justin. The Website is www.justinfund.com.
Don’t ‘Wattle’: Watch for the Early Deadline
The gobblers are coming. The gobblers are coming.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday next week, the Hudson~Litchfield News will be going to press on Wednesday, November 22. Therefore, the deadline for submission of advertisements, articles, and press releases has been moved to Monday, November 20 at noontime. Please plan accordingly.
The offices of the Hudson~Litchfield News will be closed on Friday, November 24 because the staff will be busy helping with the arrival of Santa at Library Park in Hudson. Come on down and join the festivities.