Local middle school uses Skype to connect with recovering student

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BROWN SUMMIT, N.C. – In 2015, students at Brown Summit Middle School made a memorable video to encourage Lilli Hicks as she underwent treatments for AML Leukemia.

The school is still making sure she is supported, but in a different way.

The school has used Skype and school laptops to ensure Hicks has a presence in the classroom even though she is physically at home.

The eighth-grade student has faced a number of medical challenges throughout middle school.

“Lilli relapsed. Her cancer came back after about a year and she needed a bone marrow transplant,” said Lili’s father Travis Hicks.

As her immune system rebuilds, the only places Lilli is permitted to go beyond her home are outside and to the hospital.

“She probably was more upset over missing school than she was for having cancer,” Hicks said.

The family says a school counselor helped come up with the idea of allowing Lilli to Skype into class.

Typically, a friend will carry a laptop from each class allowing Lilli to hear the lessons and communicate with classmates during exercises such as group activities.

“I was excited because it would get me back in the classroom in a way,” Lilli said.

“It’s really nice to have her in class and have her involved because before, it felt like she was more removed from our school community and now we always have her around,” friend Maura Toole said.

The technology has not only allowed Lilli to stay on top of her studies, but it has also kept her connected socially.

She’ll also Skype with her friends at lunch.

“I do sometimes, normally [about] once a week,” she said.

“It makes me proud of Brown Summit Middle School. It makes me have faith in the school system and the leaders and teachers in that school who have gone above and beyond,” Travis Hicks said.

The goal is for Lilli to physically be back in the classroom in the spring.

She also receives traditional homebound instruction through Guilford County Schools.