From near death to high school graduate

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At the beginning of February, Infantino returned to school. With a fresh haircut, he remembers walking into Carbonaro and getting such a warm welcome that it took him a half-hour to get to his classroom. When he finally made it to the room, he was hugged by his classmates.

“It was the best thing to see that people still remembered me,” he said, “even though I was gone for so long.”

Infantino came back to a different teacher. Joseph Schumpf took over the class in January while Infantino was out. “I didn’t know much about Christopher at the time, aside from him being very sick and in the hospital,” Schumpf said. “Although I was new to the class and most of the staff, it was very clear that he was at the heart of the school.”

Schumpf also remembers the joy his students felt when their classmate returned. He said Infantino spoke to them about his experience, but was more interested in getting to know his new teacher and catching up on school work.

“He hit the ground running and had no problem returning to the head of the class,” Schumpf said. “Christopher fit right back in as an integral piece of the sixth grade puzzle.”

District 24 Curriculum Director Dr. Lisa Conte, who then was Carbonaro’s principal, said she remembers Infantino’s ordeal. “We were so worried about him,” she said, noting the sense of relief that everyone felt when he got better. “He overcame more than any child has had to deal with and he did it with such a positive attitude.”

Later that year, Infantino took part in the school’s annual poetry contest and recited the longest poem among all students. After he left for South, the school named an award for him, given every year to the child who reads the longest piece. Conte said it ensures that Infantino still serves as a role model at Carbonaro.

Christina Casillo, a classmate of Infantino’s then and a fellow South High graduate this year, called him the “sixth-grade miracle.” She also remembers that poetry contest and how teachers and students were crying as he read the poem.

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