OCONTO, Wis. (WBAY) – In the last couple of months, there’s been a new kind of student, but a familiar face, in a third grade Oconto, Wisconsin classroom.
A classroom where learning math is fun.
“We do a lot of groups and we do a lot of movement around,” said Brian Larsen, a teacher in the classroom.
Fun lessons are great for Elysia Mireles, who loves learning.
“Elysia is a super hard worker. She always tries her best on everything that she does,” Larsen said.
“She has stage 4 (high risk) Neuroblastoma,” said Elysia’s mom, Melisa Mireles. Neuroblastoma occurs when cancer cells form in the nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 700 new cases of Neuroblastoma in the United States each year.
Treatments kept Elysia out of school for about a month after she was diagnosed with the illness at the end of February.
Then, the school introduced her to a robot it calls E2, named after Elysia, that allows her to interact with classmates.
“I get to play with my friends,” Elysia said.
“They just view it as Elysia and she’s a part of the class,” Larsen said.
“It allows the student to interact with the classroom being anywhere they are and all they need is an internet connection,” said Scott Boucher, IT director.
“I was wowed. I had no idea that was even an option for us,” Mireles said.
“It’s just been a great thing to keep her academics, to keep her with her class,” Larsen said. “And to make sure she’s keeping pace with everybody else.”
Every day after she’s done learning, Elysia parks E2 in a cradle to charge it so she’s ready to go for the next day.
“For her to be able to see them, interact with them, even when she can’t be there is a big deal for her,” Mireles said.
Elysia’s classmates hope to see her in class again soon.
“She has a smile that is contagious and it just makes everybody else around her happy,” said Larsen.