Skip to main content

Former Bittersweet Student Welcomed to the Spartan Family

Alex Deranek's First Day Back at School
Alex Deranek's First Day of School of 6th grade at Schmucker Middle School (Thurs., Sept. 5, 2019)

Today was a very special day for one Schmucker student … today was Alex Deranek’s first day of 6th grade!


For those of you who were students and families at Bittersweet Elementary last year, you may remember that the school community came together in a “Bittersweet Strong” campaign to support outgoing 5th grader Alex Deranek. In March 2018, Alex was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease, along with another of serious kidney problems. The result is that his small kidneys barely function, around 20%.


Bittersweet Strong T-shirt
These “Bittersweet Strong” t-shirts, especially designed by teachers for Alex and his love of elephants, were sold as part of last year’s Bittersweet fundraiser for the Deranek family.


Alex was supposed to undergo a kidney transplant, donated by his father at Riley Children’s Hospital (Indianapolis) over the summer. Unfortunately, that did not happen; the hope is that Alex will eventually receive a transplant. Alex’s illness caused him to miss P-H-M’s official First Day Back to School on Wed., August 21st


But now that Alex is receiving dialysis at home, he was finally able to return to school to be with all of his friends! Today (Thurs., September 5) Alex has officially become a middle schooler attending Schmucker Middle School (click to see the full photo gallery below)! His 6th grade classmates, who attended Bittersweet last year with him, helped welcomed Alex back to school today by wearing their “Bittersweet Strong” t-shirts!


Alex and friends


Today was another shining example of how Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation is a family! We pull together as a community to support one another!


To download high resolution jpg files from the photo gallery below, just simply click the “DOWNLOAD” button on the bottom right-hand corner of the photo while viewing it in the Photo Gallery function. We are happy to provide this service to you, free of charge!