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The PHS and Allendale school communities expressed their support for Carter LaCasse, who's recovering from leukemia.
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Pittsfield Schools Celebrate Carter LaCasse's Return Home

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Carter has to stay safely distanced for now because he is immunocompromised. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield High and Allendale Elementary schools rallied in support of Carter LaCasse on Tuesday.  
 
The 8-year-old boy was recently cleared of cancer after a more than six-month battle with a rare form of leukemia
 
As a second-grade student of Allendale and the son of a PHS teacher, the schools saw no better way to welcome him home than with a celebration at both.
 
Carter traveled by both schools in his mother's car escorted by first responders and paused in front of each to be recognized.  He smiled from the back seat while students and staff cheered for his return wearing "#CarterStrong" shirts.
 
The PHS band played "The Hey Song" while singing "Hey, go Carter!" on the steps of the high school. At Allendale, his peers and teachers stood in front of the school holding signs of encouragement.
 
"The support that we've gotten from the Pittsfield High School community, the Allendale community, and the entire Pittsfield public school community is unbelievable," his mother, Crystal Czerno, said.
 
"I've been working at PHS for 10 years and I've loved my job every single day and this is exactly why — it's a family. And it's not just Pittsfield High School but the entire Pittsfield public school community, it's a family and it just feels so special to be a part of and it means everything to us."
 
PHS Principal Henry Duval said a lot of fundraising has been done for Carter, with teachers, students, and families contributing.
 
"Ever since Carter was diagnosed, the school communities here at Pittsfield High School and also at Allendale, but within the entire Pittsfield Public School system has all rallied around that," he explained.
 
Carter was diagnosed with leukemia in early December. The cancer usually fits into one of two types, myeloid or lymphoma, and there are two sub-types for lymphoma, type B cell and type T cell.  His cells showed several types, making the diagnosis B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
 
He underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and had a stem cell transplant in late April.
 
Czerno explained that her son is on immunosuppressants following the transplant, making him extremely immunocompromised and that he has to take precautions to preserve his health.  This comes during a time when people are used to social distancing and masking from the COVID-19 pandemic, making it an easier adjustment, she said.
 
Tuesday's event was a great example of this, as the schools arranged for a socially distant outdoor drive-by to safely show their support.
 
Because of being immunocompromised, Carter will not be able to return to school until sometime next year.  
 
Czerno said the community has been amazing by fundraising for her son's treatment and holding four completely booked blood drives. A co-worker at Pittsfield High School started a Gofundme for the cause that has raised more than $18,000.
 
Donations of blood and platelets, which are pieces of very large cells in bone marrow, aided Carter tremendously.  Because of this, his mother has been raising awareness about the importance of blood and platelet donation and has a sign on her car reading "Donate blood and platelets."
 
"The amount of transfusions that he required to live, to even have a chance of having the chemo to get him into remission enough to get the stem cell transplant is unreal the amount of transfusions," Czerno said.
 
"Donating blood is quick and it's easy, donating platelets is slightly more time, it takes between three to four hours. It's like a time commitment but without people doing that, Carter would not be here and all of our friends that we met in the hospitals, they wouldn't even have a chance to see if chemo and stem cell transplants could work."
 
She posted an update to the crowdfunding page on Tuesday to express her gratitude and outline the long road that the young fighter has as a part of his "journey to forever."  
 
"Carter is cancer-free and almost 100 percent donor cells. He still has a long road ahead. We will be making weekly trips to the clinic in Boston. There is awhile before life can return to 'normal,' because he is on immunosuppressants, part of the process in receiving a stem cell transplant, he needs to be very careful," Czerno wrote.
 
"He cannot return to school for 6-8 months (which means no work for me), has many dietary restrictions, and will not be able to do many things outside of the safety of our home, but it's all part of this journey ... our journey to forever. Thank you for all the continued love and support!"
 

Tags: cancer,   

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Dalton Voters OK Articles at Special Town Meeting

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — Fewer than a dozen voters at Monday's special town meeting took only 10 minutes to pass the two articles on the warrant. 
 
Article 1 was amended to include an additional $4,000 to cover trash removal from Town Hall, the senior center, garage, and park, based on a recent contract proposal with Casella.  
 
This addition brought the total amount for Article 1 to $12,643, of which $8,6324 will pay sewer and debt expenses that were not anticipated for the annual town meeting. 
 
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