Students from Glen Head Elementary School gathered outside on May 5 to do something many students, and even teachers, dream of doing — taping their principal to the wall. They didn’t do it out of anger, however. They did it to raise money and awareness for their fellow student, Jack Accardi, who is currently battling leukemia.
A kindergartener, Jack was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in December of 2022. Teachers in the district described him as a “wonderful kid with a big heart.”
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, commonly referred to as ALL, is a type of blood cancer that attacks the white blood cells in the body’s bone marrow. The B-cell variant is the most common in children, and although it is dangerous it is curable.
While many would offer condolences and thoughts and prayers before moving on with their day, the students and faculty heads of Glen Head School’s Community Service Club decided to focus on finding ways to help Jack. The Community Service Club previously worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a nonprofit that supports blood cancer research, and partnered with them again to help fundraise for Jack.
“As soon as we knew that we had a student who was battling leukemia, we wanted to get involved,” Janet Goldberg, the school’s enrichment teacher and faculty co-advisor of the Community Service Club, said.
Initially, they decided to raise money for research into ALL by doing jumping jacks. Each grade did a certain number of jumping jacks, and collected money from their parents and neighbors to raise money through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night” program.
The Community Service Club, which is comprised of fifth graders at Glen Head but encourages acts of community service throughout the school, initially raised $11,300 to help fund cancer research in Jack’s name. The student members of the club thought they could do more, however, and came up with a way to raise further funds on Jack’s behalf.
The students saw a photo from around 2015 where a previous principal had been taped to the school’s outside walls to raise money and thought that it would be a fun way to raise more money, which they called “Stuck for a Buck.” Christine Kingsley, the school librarian and the other faculty co-advisor of the Community Service Club, explained that the club members were really the driving force behind the event.
For the event, students gathered donations from their parents, and paid for different lengths of tape that they would then use to tape Glen Head Principal Peter Rufa to the wall of the school. Kingsley and Goldberg added that some students brought in extra money to cover students who could only pay for small pieces.
Initially Rufa stood on a small platform while several faculty and administrators put on a base layer of tape. He laughed and joked with the students throughout the process, even when some of them started chanting “Tape his mouth,” while other students expressed adorable concern that he might be uncomfortable or thirsty.
“It was a really great experience,” Rufa said later. “It’s amazing to see the community come together in a common cause to help a member of our learning community and other folks that are suffering with leukemia and lymphoma.”
The whole event lasted a little over an hour, and in the end, Rufa was so covered in tape that he was able to hang from the wall without any assistance. Jack even made an appearance at the end, waving to his fellow students from his mom’s car.
In the end, the students raised a further $2,500 in Jack’s name, bringing the total to over $13,000.