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Guest MINDSETTER™ Fitzpatrick: A Tribute to Blackstone Valley Tech HS Coach Yancik

Thursday, May 24, 2018

 

Derek Yancik

Tragedy within our nation’s schools has received focused attention in recent weeks in the wake of the latest school shootings in Florida, Maryland, and Texas. Yet closer to home, local schools must deal with the issues of death and loss on a personal basis every day as they inevitably cope with student and teacher illness and death.

The May 14 passing of beloved teacher and coach Derek Yancik after an 18 month battle with pancreatic cancer brought that reality once again to Blackstone Valley Tech High School in Upton.

Coach Yancik, an HVAC/R instructor and assistant football coach, provided a stellar example of strength and dignity in the face of adversity. Never bemoaning his circumstances or lashing out at the unfairness of his tragic illness, he showed his students and athletes how to persevere against all odds and face an uncertain future with grace.

His plight inspired students to create the Yancik Strong team, which participated in the Pancreatic Cancer Walk in Boston to raise research funds in November; and brought a videotaped message of support from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when the school’s football team competed in the state championship game at Gillette Stadium in December. Just as a family surrounds a loved one with care and support during times of trouble, the entire school community came together to show its love and gratitude for a dedicated teacher and mentor.

In his passing, Coach Yancik leaves a legacy of courage, humility, and selflessness that will endure at Valley Tech. He will be sorely missed, but remembered always and honored by student-led annual cancer awareness and fundraising efforts in his name.

Dr. Michael F. Fitzpatrick is the Superintendent and Director of the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District.

 

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