The school was all abuzz with the news that Giants quarterback Kerry Collins was paying a visit to the school, thought to be part of the Dr. Seuss festivities.
But in reality, Collins, the quarterback who led the Giants to the Super Bowl two months ago, was making a special visit to a certain class that had paid tribute to their friend with a special video presentation.
While Mayor Richard Turner, members of the Township Council and other professionals from all walks of life were busy reading passages from Dr. Seuss books, including "Horton Hatches an Egg," which actually mentions Weehawken in the book, Collins was paying a special visit to Eileen Hochman's sixth grade class that had produced a special video which told the story of an incredible and courageous fellow classmate, 12-year-old Lenny Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has battled cancer for the last six years. A year ago, he finally decided to have his leg amputated in order to stabilize his health. The students made the poignant and moving video, telling Lenny's incredible and emotional tale, and wanted to show the video to Collins.
Collins does a lot of work for charities involving children, especially those who have been stricken with cancer. His "KC for Kids" charity has raised nearly $500,000 for the Rusk Institute for Children with Cancer in Manhattan.
Hochman's son, Robert, has done work with the Giants' public relations staff, so he was the one who arranged to have Collins make the visit to the school, provided that a $500 donation was made to KC for Kids.
Music and dance teacher Jimmy Festa raised the money. Collins came to meet the youngsters who made the video, as well as meeting the courageous soul that is known as "Roosevelt's Little Giant."
After Collins was introduced to the entire student body as part of the celebration for Dr. Seuss' birthday, Collins went to Hochman's classroom to meet privately with the students. He explained the work he does with the charity and thanked the students for raising the money.
"This is really going to go a long way to helping kids like yourselves," Collins told the youngsters.
The students asked Collins a range of questions, like what team did he like as a youngster growing up in Pennsylvania, about his family background, and his football playing background (whether he always played quarterback).
He was also asked if he had role models growing up. Collins said that he admired Dan Marino and John Elway.
One student asked Collins if he liked playing in the Super Bowl.
"It's an unbelievable experience," Collins told the youngsters. "Unfortunately for us, the game didn't go so well, but it was certainly something I'll never forget."
One student asked Collins what it felt like when Collins threw for five touchdown passes in the Giants' 41-0 thrashing of Minnesota to win the NFC Championship.
"It was great to play as well as we did in front of our fans," Collins said. "It was one of the most special days I've ever had playing football."
Collins even answered the tough questions, much like he did when a throng of reporters surrounded him during the Super Bowl week. A student asked Collins about his past troubles with alcoholism.
"Alcohol was something that was very destructive to me," Collins said. "I was a prisoner to alcohol. It's something that everyone has to face in their lives, even as kids. Hopefully, by me telling you what happened to me, I hope you will all make the right decisions about alcohol."
After Collins answered the questions, the students played their video for the Giants' quarterback. Soon after, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, including Collins. The stirring video told the story of young Lenny's battle from the first day.
Hochman's class has captured the national Panasonic KidWitness News award in each of the last two years. Without question, this emotional biography of Lenny's life will also be considered for national honors. It was that professional.
Needless to say, Collins was impressed.
"Lenny has a special story to tell, and I was glad I could share in that," Collins said. "Plus, kids need to have good messages and hopefully, I was able to bring that to them. Seeing Lenny really puts everything in perspective. Our problems pale in comparison with what this young man has been through. No doubt, we all have problems and we all have to deal with them our own way. But it's nothing when you consider Lenny." Added Collins, "When I see someone his age going through all he's been through, believe me, it inspires me and encourages me. It was amazing to see. And they asked some tough questions."
Collins then signed autographs for all the youngsters and then, it was his turn to ask them questions. He wanted to know if anyone in the class were boyfriend and girlfriend. He got no response.
He then asked, "Who is your favorite defensive player?" He got a response to that one, but it wasn't one he didn't want to hear.
"Ray Lewis," said one youngster, referring to the Ravens' linebacker who was named the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl.
"No matter how much I might not want to hear it, the kid is right," Collins said. "I was looking for the Giants' defensive player, but they went right for the best."
After Collins' visit, it was learned that Collins has extended an invitation to Rodriguez and his family to attend a Giants game next season, as well as the opportunity to seek medical advice and counseling at the Rusk Institute in the future at no cost.
"What he has done with children has been wonderful," Hochman said. "Now, Lenny and his family will be getting an opportunity that they wouldn't have been able to get, opening the door to the Rusk Institute and receive the proper care. I can't say enough about Kerry. Athletes today get a raw deal, but Kerry deserves a lot of credit. He gave our little Lenny, our little giant, a leg up. From one Giant to another giant."