CIBA students support charities

By Mariana Garcia - CIBA Student Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Nov. 8, 2013
Students wear t-shirts acknowledging they are ‘working together to find a cure’ with names of supporting businesses on the back. Photo by Mariana Garcia. - Contributed Photo

Although at the Connecticut IB Academy (CIBA) the school year has only just begun, students and staff are already hard at work collaborating with one another to find ways to help others. Each year the students at CIBA choose new and different charities and organizations to support.  However, no matter which causes are chosen, the Michael Abelon Memorial Foundation (MAMF) is always supported.   MAMF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2010.

The foundation finances the Abelon Memorial Walk by finding business sponsorships and running events to help fund the various walk expenses. The Abelon Memorial Walk annually funds research for pancreatic cancer and supports higher education through a scholarship given each year to a CIBA graduate. Since it’s conception in 2006, the Abelon Memorial Walk has raised close to $50,000.

Michael H. Abelon was the founding principal of the CT IB Academy who had previously worked at East Hartford High School as a biology teacher. In the winter of 2004, Abelon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. Nonetheless, he had a smile on his face every day. “Despite his diagnosis, Mr. Abelon came to work each day encouraging students and staff to do their best,” said Rachel Buck, one of the math teachers at CIBA, vice president of MAMF and faculty advisor of the Abelon Committee. “Every year as I work with students to plan the Abelon Memorial Walk in his honor, I am amazed at the dedication and enthusiasm of a student body that never knew him.  They are insistent that his memory be kept alive and I am honored to be a part of it.  Mike would be extremely proud of what our CIBA students have accomplished and continue to accomplish and I like to think he is still up there shaking his fist and telling them to ‘get to class’ whenever he sees them loitering in the hallways.”

On May 24, 2005,  Abelon passed away. Shortly after his death, the idea of the memorial walk was first conceived by students Kaitlyn Brescia and Danielle Rodriguez (Class of 2007). Since then, students at CIBA have shown their leadership skills to honor the memory of Abelon and provide more and more support to those who have experienced the effect of pancreatic cancer in their lives.

This year, Mackenzie Satalino and Mikayla Barnwell (Class of 2014) and Justin Nortey, Anthony Acosta, and C Lee (Class of 2015) are the coordinators of the Abelon Memorial Walk, the main event for the Memorial Foundation.

To kick off this month as Pancreatic Awareness Month, the Abelon Committee sponsored a Murder Mystery Dinner. Families, friends, staff, and students gathered on Oct. 24 to participate in this fun event in which students and staff assumed the roles of members of a beauty pageant.  Everyone in attendance attempted to decipher the clues and discover who the murderer was.  The Committee added a special touch to the event with a Purple Light ceremony.  Using glow sticks and purple Christmas lights, the back patio of CIBA was lit up in honor of friends and family who have passed on from or who are still fighting pancreatic cancer.  The moment of silence that was held in their honor reminded people of how important this cause is.

Editor’s Note: This is the first story in a series of articles to be written by student correspondent Mariana Garcia, a student at the Connecticut IB Academy. Her next is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 5 edition.

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