Student helps bring Miss CT and cancer awareness to St. Joseph's School

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Sat., Sep. 24, 2011
St. Joseph's School sixth-grader, Madison, 11, and Miss Connecticut Morgan Amarone, who was invited to the school to talk about her children's book on cancer awareness on Sept. 23. Photos by Steve Smith.
St. Joseph's School sixth-grader, Madison, 11, and Miss Connecticut Morgan Amarone, who was invited to the school to talk about her children's book on cancer awareness on Sept. 23. Photos by Steve Smith.

While reading an article about Miss Connecticut Morgan Amarone's children's book about dealing with cancer - “Madison's Journey” - in the Sept. 1 edition of the ReminderNews, Madison Thiel, a sixth-grader at St. Joseph's School, noticed the character's name was the same as hers, and read on to see what the book was about.

“I was basically interested because of my name,” Thiel said. “I brought it into school, because we had to bring in an article and do a summary about it.”

Thiel and her teacher, Lynne Cartwright, decided to try contacting Amarone to arrange a visit to their school. “I thought it was awesome,” Cartwright said. “We saw the e-mail and said, 'Let's give it a shot and see if she'll come visit us.”

Cartwright said her entire class was excited when they learned that Amarone would indeed visit them on Sept. 23. “We got a response immediately,” she said. “They were blushing and giggling.”

Thiel said she was excited and nervous because she was to introduce Amarone on her visit, in front of the entire school.

Amarone asked the children if they were familiar with cancer, and most of the students had some familiarity with the disease. Amarone read her book, which tells of an 11-year-old girl, who learns that her friend, Sophie, has cancer. The character seeks out her own knowledge of the disease, and how she can help her friend. She also learns about ways she can live a cancer-preventative, healthy lifestyle, and how to raise awareness, specifically through organizing a dance show where the proceeds go to help Sophie's family.

After the story, Amarone asked the children to break into groups and write two lists on a piece of paper. The first list is of things they learned from the book, and the second was of topics important to them, that they might want to write a book about. Representatives from each group then read their lists to the entire room.

“To help prevent cancer, you can eat right, exercise and wear sunblock,” Thiel said, representing her group, “and Sophie and Madison volunteered at a hospital to help make people happy.”

“Cancer, bullying and cyber-bullying, homeless families, disabilities and lung disease,” another student said, citing what topics they would like to write about someday.

Amarone said she was glad to see that the students were attentive to the subject, and that they clearly learned something from the presentation. She also thanked Thiel for her role in the visit. “I have to thank Madison for taking the initiative and getting me here,” Amarone said, adding that she was very impressed with what the students learned, as well as what they already knew about cancer, its causes and prevention.

St. Joseph's Principal Kathy Peck said the presentation was well-received, and was especially glad, since a younger sibling of a St. Joe's student has also had to deal with cancer.

“She had a wonderful way with the kids,” Peck said of Amarone. “She really related to them and could handle their child-like kinds of questions. I think it was good, because we avoid that subject with kids. We've had it touch our own school. They don't always understand it, but it's good that the subject comes up. She handled it in a way that was very appropriate for their age group.”

For more information about “Madison’s Journey” and Miss Connecticut appearances, contact Gail McCool at 860-861-8261 or

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