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Students at Beaver school give an angel her wings

Saturday, June 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Even at Christmas, Angela Zak has never seen her home look the way it did on Friday — when 530 angel wings dotted the front lawn.

“I was so surprised. They made me happy. I have no idea what I'm going to do with all of them,” said Angela, who is 10 and was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia one year ago.

Angela's schoolmates made the angel wings; each bore a handwritten note.

She first saw the wings when she returned from Children's Hospital on Friday afternoon. Angela was at the hospital to receive chemotherapy in her spine.

By late afternoon, Angela's mother, Laura Zak, said the home was the center of attention in Beaver.

“It's an amazing sight,” Laura Zak said. “We have people stopping by and neighbors walking over. I have never seen my own house look like anything like this.”

Angela is in the fourth grade at Dutch Ridge Elementary School. Doctors diagnosed her with leukemia last June, and she's spent about six of the past 12 months in the hospital. She has been unable to attend school this year and is tutored at home.

On Friday morning, the 37 students in sixth-grade teacher Pam Learn's class rode a bus to the Zak home, where they spent about 30 minutes placing the angels on the lawn.

The wings are made of white paper, decorated and covered with plastic. Every student in the school made one.

“They were so excited about this. They really miss her, think about her and want her to get well,” Learn said. “And she brings out the best in them. The messages they wrote on the angel wings were very heartfelt.”

Learn admires Angela.

“Angela is an amazing, brave child who never complains, never says, ‘Why me?' and always thinks of other people, even now,” she said.

Angela's form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, called Philadelphia chromosome-positive, is a life-threatening childhood cancer that requires weekly chemotherapy for about two-and-a-half years. That type of cancer makes remission more difficult.

Since Angela was diagnosed last year, the community has overwhelmed her family with support and encouragement. Her classmates even sold lemonade to raise money for Angela's treatment.

“Everyone is just so supportive,” Laura Zak said. “Angela is amazing; she is my hero.”

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at



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