St. Mary’s dresses down for scholarship honoring late principal

First and second grade students on dress down day at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Westfield. (PETER CURRIER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD — Students at St. Mary’s Elementary School had a “Dress Down Day” Wednesday to raise funds for a scholarship in the name of Principal Juli Jensen-Derrig, who died suddenly this past June.

St. Mary’s students were allowed to forgo their normal school uniforms and dress more casually in exchange for donations for the newly created Juli-Jensen Derrig Scholarship, which will provide financial aid to St. Mary’s students and their families who qualify.

PTO President Dawn Erickson said that the students raised $1,300 on Wednesday for the scholarship. An additional $300 was raised from the sale of T-shirts bearing the likeness of Jensen-Derrig’s beloved dog, Mabel. Jensen-Derrig was known to bring Mabel into the school some days.

From left, St. Mary’s Elementary School teachers Kerry O’Connor, Danielle Walsh, Lynn Collins, Mary Clair Robinson, and PTO President Dawn Erickson. (PETER CURRIER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

Some students also wore sunflower shirts, an idea that came from Jensen-Derrig’s daughter. Sunflowers were a favorite of the late principal, and student-drawn pictures of sunflowers were hung up throughout the halls of the building on the dress-down day.

After Jensen-Derrig’s unexpected passing, her best friend Jenn Van-Hynigen, a third grade teacher at St. Mary’s, took Mabel in herself.

Jensen-Derrig is dearly missed by the St. Mary’s students and faculty. St. Mary’s itself was described as “her heart and soul” by Van-Hynigen.

Third graders on dress down day. (PETER CURRIER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

In addition to the scholarship, Erickson said that the elementary school library will be renamed for Derrig-Jensen in the near future.

St. Mary’s fourth graders on dress down day. (PETER CURRIER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

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