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Jacob Monday, Shen student battling terminal cancer, receives honorary degree

Jacob Monday, Shen student battling terminal cancer, receives honorary degree

'Jacob, you've inspired me and countless others to live life on your terms and face whatever challenges may come up'
Jacob Monday, Shen student battling terminal cancer, receives honorary degree
Jacob Monday receives an honorary degree from Shenendehowa Superintendent Dr. L. Oliver Robinson on Sunday.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

CLIFTON PARK — Normally quiet on the weekend, the Shenendehowa High School East auditorium was buzzing with students on Sunday. 

The school hosted an honorary degree ceremony for sophomore Jacob Monday, who is battling terminal bone cancer and decided to stop treatment in January. 

The 16-year-old Ballston Lake resident's classmates and community members filled up the auditorium to honor him. 

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Parent Traci Dickerson, whose son is also a sophomore, said it shows what kind of caliber school Shenendehowa is to honor Jacob. 

"This is a time to celebrate life for a kid who deserves it," she said. "I hope the family knows how much love and support there is for them during this time.

"It serves as an important lesson for all kids about how short life is and that you have to embrace it while you can." 

Sophomore Charlotte Miller came out to support her classmate, despite not knowing Jacob personally. 

"It's really nice that the school did this," she said. "It's great that so many people are coming together for him. 

"I hope he's at peace and knows that we care about him."

Nearly 30 fire fighters from the Clifton Park and Jonesville Volunteer fire departments came out on Sunday to support Jacob. 

Clifton Park Fire Department Chaplin Jay Kline said supporting the community is what the fire department is all about. 

"This is an upstanding example of what kind of school Shen is," he said. "I hope the family has a lifetime of memories and that they know they're cared for."

Superintendent Dr. L. Oliver Robinson said Sunday's ceremony was a celebration of tenacity, self-determination and life. 

"Jacob, you've inspired me and countless others to live life on your terms and face whatever challenges may come up," he said to the crowd. "You remind us all what it feels like to love and be loved. 

"You've pushed me to ask myself what can I do to be a better person, friend, professional and family member."

The sophomore class council at Shenendehowa High School East helped raise money to fund Jacob's bucket list, which included meeting actor Chris Pratt. 

Jacob, who met Pratt earlier this month, received a special video message from the actor on Sunday. 

Pratt said: "I'm thinking about you, I love you, and I'm continuing to pray for you. Happy graduation!" 

Shari Voce's son, Jack, is the sophomore class president, and she said the class council helped raise more than $4,000 on Jacob's behalf. A GoFundMe account was also launched and has since raised more than $30,000. 

"His biggest wish is to make sure his mom and brother are taken care of," Shair Voce said of Jacob. "That's one of his biggest wishes."

Voce said Jacob's battle with bone cancer serves as a life lesson for all. 

"I hope people learn not to take life for granted," she said. "This could've been anyone's child."

Special education teacher Kelly Champagne, who serves as Jacob's liaison between his family and the school to ensure his needs are met, said Monday is gearing up for several trips including a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World in May. 

"Anything he's able to do, we're trying to make it happen," she said. "We're taking it one day at a time."

Champagne said Jacob has made an impact on the entire community.

"I'm not surprised at all at the number of people who came out today," she said of the hundreds of students and community members who filled up the auditorium. "The community — as it always does — rallied behind him and his family."

Moving forward, Champagne said she hopes Jacob and his family make as many memories as possible.

"I hope he doesn't suffer, that his pain is manageable and that he can do as much as he can," she said while tearing up. "I hope they can make the most of his time." 

To donate to Jacob Jacob's GoFundMe account, visit www.gofundme.com/jacobswishes.

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