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Taft HS Principal Grishaber In 'Complete Remission,' Plans Return To School

By Alex Nitkin | January 23, 2017 3:16pm
 Mark Grishaber was in
Mark Grishaber was in "complete remission" after six chemotherapy sessions and 40 days in the hospital, he said.
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Taft High School

NORWOOD PARK — Principal Mark Grishaber returned to Taft High School Monday to announce that his cancer is in "complete remission," he said.

"I'm feeling 100 percent better," Grishaber said Monday. "The doctors finally told me that I can be around people again, so I'm making my comeback."

Grishaber was diagnosed with leukemia in November, after leaving his post for an abrupt medical leave. He spent 40 days in the hospital and underwent six chemotherapy treatments, he said.

Grishaber will make a "partial return" to school on Feb. 13 and plans to resume work full-time about two weks after that, he said.

Following an appeal from the school's alumni foundation in November, Grishaber was inundated with packages and get-well cards, he said. The wall outside his office became blanketed in post-it notes from well-wishing students.

When Grishaber returned to school Monday and saw the "literally 5,000" notes lining the wall, he "had a complete and utter shutdown," he said.

"A principal is supposed to be a strong leader, but as soon as I saw that, I just started crying," Grishaber said. "The Eagle nation is an amazing support group, and it really came through for me."

During his entire time in the hospital, Grishaber stayed active on social media, constantly tweeting his support of school sports teams and reminders for students to keep their attendance up.

In the end, he said, his appeals paid off: the school's December attendance rate jumped a full percentage point from the previous year, he said.

"My Eagles did what I asked, and I'm very proud of them," Grishaber said, adding that the students' efforts earned them a "spring fling" festival later this year.

Grishaber lost about 40 pounds since he was diagnosed, but he doesn't plan to keep the weight off for long, he said.

"I'm sure some Northwest Side food will help me get all that right back," Grishaber said.

Grishaber has been principal of the school since 2014. Last month, Taft received CPS' second-highest academic rating for the second consecutive year.