Placerita honors teacher, breast cancer survivor

Director of Music at Placerita Junior High School Kathryn Spula speaks to her students in the Placerita Junior High Auditorium in Newhall Monday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

After more than a month of philanthropic efforts, students at Placerita Junior High School have successfully raised enough funds to honor their music teacher and place their program on the donor wall at the Sheila Veloz Breast Center.

Choral, band and orchestra students at the local junior high school raised $1,500 in a little more than a month after their teacher Kathryn Spula, a breast cancer survivor, mentioned the idea at the beginning of October, which is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The music students of Placerita Junior High School present a check for $1,500 to the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Center. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The 155 students who participated in the program’s fundraiser gathered alongside Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital representatives in the school’s auditorium Monday to present a $1,500 check and speak about their charitable efforts and beloved teacher.

Principal John Turner said the music students continued to model the “culture of kindness” that’s present throughout the Placerita campus, before Spula was introduced to enthusiastic applause, which would repeat every time she took the podium.

The 32-year music teacher said she had classes in previous years plan special events for the month, but this year she thought the group should do something special.

“I thought, ‘Let’s do our share and work together to raise money,’” Spula said during Monday’s donation presentation. “Let’s step it up and see how we can help fight the disease.”

With no hesitation, the students went to work collecting every last cent they could, Spula said. Some donated $5, $10 or $15 at a time, while others emptied out their pockets to find anything — even pennies, nickels and dimes — that would help advance the cause.

“I could cry right now,” Spula said, while she hugged a group of Henry Mayo representatives and spoke of the doctors who helped her on her road to recovery.

It took a continuous and burning desire to achieve this goal, and Santa Clarita should be proud of their youth, Spula said. “We’ve enjoyed the whole process…”

Marlee Lauffer, president of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation, told students that every penny donated will go toward saving lives.

The Placerita Junior High Choir sings at an event in which the students raised $1,500 for the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Center in honor of their teacher, Kathryn Spula who is a breast cancer survivor. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

Following a performance from members of the chorus, the entire program squeezed together for a commemorative photo with their teacher and donated funds.

“Thanks so much to everybody who contributed to the success of this event,” Spula said.

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