BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
SYRACUSE – There were pink shoes and pick hats, there was pink hair and a pink carpet of butcher paper, there were pink balloons and pink bow ties and pink jackets and shirts and signs.
But most eyes were red Monday morning, when Louise Inderrieden came back to school at Cook Elementary after months away battling breast cancer.
Students arrived early and lined the sidewalk and halls, welcoming her back with cheers and hugs.
But more than just pink, Inderrieden found herself surrounded by students and administrators who had shaved their heads so that the hair she had lost in chemotherapy wouldn’t leave her feeling all that different.
School leaders prepared students for Inderrieden’s return at a cancer-awareness assembly last week.
Besides Interrieden, a first-grade student at Cook has been diagnosed with bone cancer and a third-grade student has a sibling with leukemia, said Dan Hansen, assistant principal.
Through skits and a Power Point presentation, students learned that cancer is not contagious and other questions and concerns were addressed, according to Hansen.
They also started a “Pennies for Patients” collection and watched as administrators had their heads shaved.
Over the weekend, many students chose to do the same, or cut their hair to donate it to Locks of Love.
Ryder Henley was one of Inderrieden’s second-grade students sporting a shaved head on Monday.
“She’s kind to everybody and makes everybody feel good about themselves,” said Henley, adding that it wasn’t all that hard to shave off his hair and it wasn’t all that cold to be bare-headed on a crisp fall morning.
Josh Nelson found his one pink shirt to wear Monday morning as he stood with his family and waited to welcome Inderrieden.
Three of Nelson’s children have been or are in Inderrieden’s class. Hunter, who is now in her class, shaved his head, saying he “wanted to do it because my teacher is nice.”
“She is an amazing teacher,” said Josh Nelson of Inderrieden. “She really loves the kids.”
He told of a parent conference when Inderrieden had tears as she talked of how much she loved her students.
“They know she thinks they can do anything they want to do,” he said. “She has complete faith in her kids. We love her so much and anything we can do to support her we’ll do.”
After walking the halls and hearing the cheers, Inderrieden paused in front of her classroom to thank the kids and to let them know she needed them.
She challenged them to keep studying their math and keep reading because one day they would grow up to be the teachers and the doctors.
And, she said, some of you will need to find the cure for this dreaded disease.