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TOWNSEND — Recent cheers from the gym echoed through the empty Friday afternoon hallways. The walls vibrated with the noise of students’ enthusiasm.

On March 19, the 2010 Relay for Life kicked off during a pep rally at North Middlesex Regional High School. The students whipped themselves into a frenzy as they prepared to try to beat last year’s fundraising results.

Leading up to all-night walk-a-thon on May 14 and 15, the students will raise money for the American Cancer Society. Last year the school raised just under $90,000.

“It’s a top-five event in the entire country,” American Cancer Society liaison Rob Riggieri said.

Last year the school was third in the nation. “It’s a huge accomplishment,” Riggieri said. He thinks the school has a good chance for raising the most money of any high school this year.

The school is on the way to increasing their numbers. There are already more people involved than there was at this time last year he said.

Beth Hague, a drafting teacher, got the school involved in the Relay for Life in 2002. Over the eight years of her involvement, the school has raised over $450,000. Hague hopes this year the school will break the half-million dollar mark.

She credits the success of the program to the students. “It’s the kids that make things happen. That’s why we’re so successful here. We let the kids run it,” she said. Three students co-chair the event, Kayla Dilby, a junior at Parker Charter School, Casey Libonate, a junior at North Middlesex; and Shanti Scott, a senior at North Middlesex.

Alumni return to help in the event and community members get involved. Other members of the faculty and staff pitch in to make the effort a success.

Wendy Orazio, a math teacher, is faculty adviser with Hague this year. “Wendy’s been in training the last year and a half,” Hague said.

Orazio was busy at the rally, organizing seating, speakers and even a singing group.

This year is Hague’s last year before retirement. Orazio will take over next year after Hague retires.

The biggest efforts come from the students though. They join teams to do fundraising projects and participate in the relay.

Already some students have made great progress on their projects. Members of Hague’s advanced drafting class designed a shed and solicited donations for materials to build it. Students will construct the building in a garage on campus before it goes to the new owner.

The American Cancer Society helps with ideas. “Kids are given a packet. They give their teams all different ways to make money,” Hague said.

In addition to suggesting traditional activities like car washes, the American Cancer Society provides a Facebook link so friends and relatives can donate online.

Hague praised both the American Cancer Society and people at the school for contributing to the success. “We’ve just had a great relationship with our American Cancer Society liaisons. It’s been a really positive experience working with them,” she said.

Hague is confident of the future success of the relay. “We have a lot of wonderful young teachers,” she said. Mike Flanagan, the principal at North Middlesex, is supportive of the effort. It was his suggestion last year to hold a rally to coincide with March Madness. Flanagan’s son is a cancer survivor.