The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Biomedical Ethic class fundraises to honor the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks

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Alex Yauri
Students partake in the Henrietta Lacks bracelet making event
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On April 5, Townsend Harris High School celebrated its third annual Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks event. Hosted by Science teacher Sarah Loew’s biomedical ethics class, the event honors the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who died from cervical cancer and had samples of cells taken from her during treatment. Her cells have rare properties that made them valuable to research, and scientists continue to use cells produced from that sample for medical research (including research done for the COVID-19 vaccine).

“Henrietta Lacks has played a vital role in the development of many scientific and medical advances that affect our everyday lives,” Ms. Loew said.

According to Ms. Loew, proceeds from this event will go to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation. “We hope participants… give back to the community by making bracelets for cervical cancer patients and survivors, raising awareness and funding for the Henrietta Lacks Foundation,” she said. By the end of the event, Biomedical Ethics class were able to raise approximately $800 to donate.

Before the event started, students crowded the halls outside of the THHS library, waiting to get their entry stamps.

A junior from Ms. Loew’s biomedical ethics class, Leilani Walkes explained that the class was divided into four committees: Spirit, Public Relations, Art Gallery, and Fundraising, each with their own responsibilities for the event. She said, “My role in all of this is to keep the fundraising organized. We had a restaurant by the name of [Gino’s of Kissena] sponsor us,” providing the event with free pizza and pasta for the first 50 attendees.

Leilani expressed that they wanted to ensure everyone would feel welcome. “We sold snacks and goodie bags with handmade plushies as well,” she said.

Senior Ilana Allen added that her team also examined previous events to determine more effective strategies for fundraising. “We came up with the VIP and the platinum to entice more people to buy tickets,” she said. Additionally, they offer students two hours of community service for their participation.

For sophomore Julia Lindner, this event offered her an opportunity to become medically conscious, learning about the injustices within the healthcare system. “Before I was in [Biomedical Ethics], I didn’t know about Henrietta Lacks and, honestly I didn’t really know about cervical cancer,” she said, “We need to bring more awareness to it because there are definitely a lot more women struggling with this.”

Attendee junior Allison Mejia commended the coordinators for providing a calm environment. She said, “[They] worked hard to create a calming atmosphere with the film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” playing in the background and the food being served.”

This was freshman Janae-Saige Noore’s first year participating in this event. She said she adored the way Biomedical Ethics class chose to honor Henrietta Lacks and raise awareness for cancer patients. “My favorite part about the event is making bracelets to donate and [seeing] the art gallery,” she said.

Ms. Loew said she hoped that participants walked away feeling confident about their work and had enjoyed their time. “We hope to make this event a THHS tradition for years to come,” she said.

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About the Contributors
Ramon A. Rodriguez
Ramon A. Rodriguez, Features Copy Editor
Ramon is a junior at Townsend Harris High School. In his free time, he like to bake and play with his Yorkshire Terrier, Toby. He enjoys spending time with friends during school, clubs, etc.
Alex Yauri
Alex Yauri, Photography Staff Member
Alex is a junior at Townsend Harris High School and a staff photographer for The Classic.
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