Updated:WEST ALLEGHENY, Pa. —
A seventh grade student in the West Allegheny School District returned to school Tuesday about three months after undergoing major surgery, and the girl’s mother had high praise for the school district.
Tanya Thorpe said her daughter, Kaylee, was born with Aperts Syndrome and spent a total of 58 days in the hospital after her surgeries.
“Through all of this, the entire school district has been beyond amazing,” Thorpe said. “She’s never been bullied and has never known the kids to be mean. That’s a credit to the school."
Thorpe said the school district named Kaylee an honorary captain of the West Allegheny High School football team.
“This was an amazing experience for her. She was given a jersey, an autographed ball and an amazing experience of going on the field with the captains,” Thorpe said. “For someone who was born so different, she felt so loved during that experience.”
According to Thorpe, different members of the school visited Kaylee while she was in the hospital as well.
“I had a meeting with the teachers and staff prior to the surgery because we knew it was a big one and she expected to be out of school for 30 days. At the meeting was when I really saw how much they truly cared for my daughter and how much she meant to all of them,” Thorpe said.
The day before Kaylee’s surgery, her 7th grade class had a pizza party for her and students gave her things to take with her to the hospital.
“The teachers put together a gift basket with an iPod touch that she wanted, and $100 in iTunes gift cards,” Thorpe said. “She got blankets, pillows, lotions and all kinds of things to take with her to the hospital.”
Thorpe said the gifts were completely unexpected.
“I just want people to know that Kaylee is more than what is on the outside. It’s on the inside that counts. She’s just the greatest,” Thorpe said.
Kaylee had complications after the surgery and had two separate infections that extended her stay in the hospital, Thorpe said. She was eventually released and Tuesday was her first day back at school.
“I am overwhelmed with emotion about how supportive the school has been,” Thorpe said. “Because my daughter’s surgeries and infections were on her skull and face, her head had to be shaved. The school is allowing her to wear hats and scarves, but they wanted her to feel comfortable for her first day back. They made Tuesday a hat day so Kaylee didn’t feel out of place or overwhelmed on her first day back.”
Kids at Kaylee’s school told Channel 11’s Amy Marcinkiewicz that they’re glad she’s back in school.
“She’s still herself. She makes us laugh, and she’s fun,” Kaylee’s friend Patrick Shearer said.
“I’m glad she’s back. We missed her,” Kaylee’s friend Lauren Wertz said.