Eleven-year-old Cyler Wilcox has had a difficult year, first losing her father in November and then discovering that her grandmother, who is also her legal guardian, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
But throughout it all, her classmates, administrators and teachers from the Providence Christian School in Oxford have offered their unwavering support.
“They’re just so nice and everything, and they’ve done as much as they could to help me,” Cyler said. “It’s so awesome I can’t even explain it.”
“They’re like a little school family it me,” she added.
On Friday, Cyler and her family brought in a special Valentine’s Day treat to thank the school for all it has done: A giant heart made of cupcakes with ‘Thank You PCS’ written in icing on top.
“The school has just reached out in so many ways,” said Cyler’s aunt, Marisa Tyler. “They’ve really treated her as one of their own, [the school is] very family oriented.”
Tyler said teachers volunteer to take Cyler on weekends to do fun activities when her grandmother is feeling ill. The school community also provided regular meals in the wake of Cyler’s father’s death and gifts at Christmas, and Cyler’s classmates wrote her grandmother personal letters of support.
“That meant the world to my mother,” who organized Friday’s event as a way to thank the school community, Tyler said. Unfortunately, Cyler’s grandmother was not well enough to join the celebration.
Cyler’s classmate, Lila Geiger, said it was important to support Cyler and her family in their time of need.
“Her grandmother was going through some really hard times and with her father passing away it was really hard for her, so we just wanted to make her feel better,” Lila said.
Another classmate, Izabella Sabo, said PCS emphasizes the Golden Rule.
“It teaches us to be good to our friends and treat others the way you would want for yourself,” she said.
Cyler’s teacher, Kaci Hart, was impressed with the little girl’s empathy and fortitude despite the multiple blows dealt to her family this past year.
“Cyler has displayed tremendous character and endurance through this whole situation and she still managed to do great in school,” Hart said.
Headmaster Ty Hensly said that when Cyler’s grandmother made the school aware of her home situation, the community didn’t think twice about what needed to be done.
“We have a lot of families, just like families out in the community, that are going through tough times and that’s what is so great about Providence, is we just love on each other and try to serve each other as best we can, so we just saw that need as an opportunity,” he said. “It’s just a blessing to be able to do it.”
Hensly credited the school’s emphasis on biblical teachings with providing a strong moral grounding for students as they pass through adolescence, when kindness often becomes a casualty of the social pecking order.
“I think the school really goes above and beyond to teach biblical principles throughout the curriculum, and how that applies to life and how we treat each other,” Hensly said.