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Watch Morgan Park H.S. Teacher's Triumphant Return to School After Cancer

By Howard Ludwig | February 19, 2016 10:29am | Updated on February 22, 2016 8:15am
Homecoming for Ms. Watson
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MORGAN PARK — It's nearly impossible to watch a viral video featuring Morgan Park High School choir teacher Gabrielyn Watson without getting a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye.

The video that went live Thursday afternoon features Watson returning to school after a fight against multiple myeloma. She successfully battled the cancer after seven months of treatment.

Upon her return to the school at 1744 W. Pryor Ave., Watson was surprised by a visit from her former student and “American Idol” season 10 finalist Peter Frank, who greeted his beloved teacher with a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Soon more of Watson's students appeared from within the school's hallway, joining in the chorus. Eventually, the Chicago Public Schools teacher herself began to sing along in an emotional moment captured on video.

"The most rewarding part of what I do is seeing the students pride upon accomplishment," Watson said in a written statement.

The surprise return shot Feb. 5 and 6 was prepared for the 17-year veteran teacher by the Kleenex brand. The maker of facial tissues launched its "Someone Needs One" program in June, and Frank nominated his mentor for the recognition.

Frank, 29, lives in Los Angeles but graduated from Lincoln Park High School in 2005. Watson later transferred to Morgan Park. Still, Frank credits Watson for his career in entertainment.

He remembers her giving him a tuxedo for a high school chorus competition because he could not afford one. Frank described Watson as "the most influential teacher" he’s ever had, and the student and teacher have maintained contact over the last decade.

The video had been viewed nearly half a million times and has received more than 30,500 shares as of Friday afternoon, according to the Kleenex Facebook page.

"It was such a rewarding, healing and inspiring experience,” Watson said.

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