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‘Torture a Teacher’ day raises funds for student battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Multiple faculty members of UCMS were “tortured” on April 19 to raise funds for Trevor Smith as he battles Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Coach Jason Hensley puckers up and kisses a pig. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Curtis Carden)
Multiple faculty members of UCMS were “tortured” on April 19 to raise funds for Trevor Smith as he battles Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Coach Jason Hensley puckers up and kisses a pig. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Curtis Carden)

Small towns often create the biggest moments. Students at Unicoi County Middle School were able to do just that for one of their own.

In an event organized by the class body, the “Torture a Teacher for Trevor” event went off with overwhelming success on Tuesday, April 19, at Bryant Field.

Learning that their classmate, Trevor Smith, was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, principal Jordan Simmons said the student body put the wheels in motion to show their support.

“All this is for him,” Simmons told The Erwin Record. “It was eighth grade students who came up with the idea. They planned this, put it together and got the teacher volunteers … they’re the ones that put the leg work into this and it’s inspiring for us at the school to see kids wanting to take care of each other.”

Various events were available Tuesday, including inflatables for students to play on, but the main attraction consisted of various ways to “torture” teachers, including a dunking booth, snowball and silly string fights, armless makeup challenges, obstacle courses and high heel races for the male faculty.

“I don’t know where they came up with some of these ideas, but torture is accurate for some of these events,” Simmons said with a laugh.

Nick Hubbard, a seventh grade instructor at UCMS, helped orchestrate the event and praised to the students for putting the effort in creating an event to help Trevor.

“They put in a lot of effort,” Hubbard said. “We have an enrichment group here at the school with students that perform well academically. So we pull them out of classes at certain times during the day to be creative and so that we could challenge them. This has truly been student led. They’ve put this together with their leadership skills and came up with everything. This has been an awesome opportunity for them to work at something and see the success come out of it.”

As of Tuesday, shirts created for the event had already raised between $1,500 and $1,700, according to Hubbard.

Eighth grader Bella Bogart was one of the handful of students who put the event in motion.

“We wanted to do this event for Trevor, who is currently battling Hodgkins Lymphoma,” Bogart said. “We wanted to raise enough money for him to cover his medical expenses. We came up with these ideas for the teachers from the high school. We talked with their student council and really got inspired from what they did.”

And while it was led by classmates, UCMS student Brandolyn Thomas said that Trevor’s story turned the day into a community event.

“It is a student-led event, but the whole community and businesses around here came together to put this together,” Thomas said. “The high school did a ‘torture a teacher’ but at a smaller scale, so we wanted to branch off and build from that. Our group that came up with this is like a mini-student council. We do different things around the school.”

Tuesday saw immense support for Trevor, but don’t expect things to end anytime soon, Hubbard said, adding that while no set goal is in place, the school would like to raise around $3,000 for the Smith family. Citizens also have the opportunity to show their support in various ways.

“We’re always accepting donations for anybody that wants to contribute,” Simmons said. “We’re selling the T-shirts we have on today at the school. Anyone interested in donating or purchasing a shirt can call the school. The shirts are $10 and over half of that is clear profit and will go to Trevor and his family.”