This homecoming week at Francis Howell Central High School is taking on a new meaning because students are using it as another chance to rally around a favorite teacher who is fighting cancer.
It’s not hard to find students or staff gushing about Roxanne Fetsch
“She’s so outgoing, has a bubbly personality, friendly, everyone wants to be in her classroom,” said Scott Harris, Central’s Activities Director.
“She is the best coach ever. A lot of the girls see her as an older sister or mom. The whole dance team is like a family,” said Callie Bratsch, a junior who is on the dance team, Sensations.
What is hard is navigating the halls of high school without Mrs. Fetsch around.
“Overwhelmed, I was like of all people why her?” said Austin McKinley, a senior who had Mrs. Fetsch for geometry his freshman year.
The popular dance coach and math teacher was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia the first week of school.
“Very difficult,” said Harris of when he got the news. “That young and outgoing and you hear that and it rips your heart out.”
Immediately students jumped in to support her in the fight.
“She is so, so important to all of us. So we wanted to do everything we could to support her so automatically we were coming up with ideas on how to raise money for her,” said Bratsch.
The dance team made T-shirts, swimmers sold bracelets and #fightingwithfetsch was born on social media.
“She is this powerful teacher that makes kids want to love math and do the best they can and I think that’s why we’ve had such a large outpouring of support for her because she has impacted so many people, as a dance coach, as a math teacher, she’s a great role model for our kids,” said Dr. Sonny Arnel, Francis Howell Central High School principal.
Even competing high schools are finding ways to get involved.
“We would go to away games, football and soccer, and people would be wearing orange showing their support and I think that shows a lot of character through other people,” said McKinley.
“I think it’s great that the whole community and the whole St. Louis area honestly has been coming together to support her and it’s super, super awesome to see as someone close to her, it’s awesome to see people who barely know her giving this kind of support,” said Bratsch.
Now, in the midst of homecoming celebrations, the fight for one of their own continues. After all, Mrs. Fetsch graduated from Central herself in 2008.
“We talk about a high school being a family, being a place to go four years and leave a better person. This is a great example of that, to see our community see someone in need in our family and then go out of their way to help. To see that all come together is powerful,” said Arnel.
Alongside decorations for the big dance, students are writing messages to Mrs. Fetsch on a “Wall of Hope.” The $1 admission to Thursday’s powder puff game will also go to Mrs. Fetsch.
Mrs. Fetsch still has about six months left of chemotherapy. Then, her family and team of doctors will decide what’s next and whether or not she’ll need a bone marrow transplant. Her husband said the outpouring of support has been “nothing short of amazing and humbling.”
Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved