Rick Iurka, a social studies teacher at Nesaquake Middle School who was suspended in April 2023 to fight cancer, wowed his students by appearing on the school’s “Moving Up Day,” a day that celebrates eighth graders “moving up” to high school. Surprised) — just surprised myself.

Students Gracyn Catalanotto and Morgan DeBello, formerly Iurka’s seventh grade teachers, came up with an idea to raise funds and show support for Iurka.

Two girls ordered rubber bracelets emblazoned with “#IurkaStrong”.

They sold the bracelets throughout the school, ultimately raising a total of $771 to donate to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“It made me cry (in a good way),” Yuka told the Daily Voice. “[Gracyn and Morgan] Are two very caring and genuine young ladies who have gone to great lengths to order and then sell the bracelets. “

Leaving class was difficult and “certainly took a mental toll,” he said.

Now cancer-free, he’s excited to see the eighth graders on “Moving Up Day” before they start high school.

On top of that is Gresing and Morgan’s fundraiser.

“Gressing and Morgan are the best, they did it all without expecting recognition,” he said.

Yucca said he was moved to learn that students and colleagues at the school wanted to buy the bracelet, adding that it sold out quickly — “It’s got to be a hot item!” Much better.

Yucca plans to return to teaching in the fall, something he said he can’t wait to do.

Even though his cancer battle is over, the love from the school and community is sure to continue.

“The support I’ve received from all of Smithtown’s students, colleagues, administration and family over the past few months has been incredible,” Ucca wrote.

“I’m a lucky man.”

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