Handing It On

Coach Jerry Lane, Plaquemine High Assistant Principal was surprised at a student assembly held Tuesday, March 10 with the “Hand It On” program.

Plaquemine High Assistant Principal, Coach Jerry Lane, was surprised by a WAFB camera crew during a student assembly on Tuesday, March 10 for the “Hand It On” program.  The award winner is given $300 so they can “Hand It On” to a person in need.  Lane was nominated for the “Hand It On” program by Mrs. Alice Harris, Lane’s co-worker at PHS. 

“He (Lane) is the pillar of Plaquemine High.  He’s always willing to give a helping hand,” Harris said.  “He thinks of everyone else first, and he always puts himself last.  We felt that with all of the love he showed the children and the staff that he should be nominated.”

“I saw his struggles with his sickness,” Harris added.  “And I tried to help with whatever I can, and that’s when I saw the ‘Hand It On’ program and I thought he would make a good candidate.  We wanted to lift his spirits.”  Harris wrote a letter to WAFB, which was framed, along with a plaque, for Coach Lane.  Harris didn’t nominate Lane alone, though.  She was assisted by English teach Sallie LeBlanc in writing the letter to WAFB.

“It was well deserved,” LeBlanc said.  “And the kids respect him because they know he cares about them.  He was there for me when I really needed somebody, but it’s not just me, he’s there for the entire faculty when they need him.”

Harris and the faculty members pretended to hold an assembly in the gym for student testing.  “He thought he (Lane) was in there for the testing assembly,” Harris said.  “We had the principal speak to the students then we asked Coach Lane if he wanted to speak.”  When Lane stepped up to the microphone, the cameras showed up.

“I didn’t know what was happening, “ Lane said.  “It was a surprise, but it was deeply appreciated.  I work with some good people.” Coach Jerry Lane was hired as head PHS basketball coach when he first came to Plaquemine High in 1996.  He returned in 2006, but as an Assistant Principal. Now, instead of coaching a team, he’s in charge of an entire student body.  Despite his hardships, Lane has spent extensive amounts of time and energy to greatly improve the climate of the school. Coach Lane has dedicated his efforts to improving the lives of the students that he cares for so much, and was overwhelmed when the student body showed how much they care for him during his illness.

During the course of Lane’s time at Plaquemine, he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.  Despite his doctor informing him to stay home, Lane found a way to show up to school no matter his condition.  “One day I came to school with hair, and then one day I showed up without hair,” Lane said.  “And the children just accepted it.”  The student body made sure to let Jerry Lane know how much they love and respect him by overwhelming him with cards and positive greetings.  “I had seventh and eighth graders come up to me that I’ve never met before and tell me ‘when I say my prayers at night I pray for you.’”

After his initial run-in with the cancer treatment process, Lane was diagnosed again in 2013 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had to go through the chemo process from January through May of that same year.  “It was harder the second time,” Lane said.  “I had to wear a life vest for three months around school just in case my heart would stop so it would shock me.”  Lane’s doctor informed him that he was not to work during his healing process, but Lane thought otherwise.  “It was better for me to be here,” Lane said “The energy that the kids give off and the things they say helped me.  It was important for me to be here and I figured if I was going to be sick I’d rather be sick here than be sick at home by myself.  It was a part of my healing.”  Coach Lane struggled to make it to work some days, but he says the struggle was worth it, and is quick to give credit where credit is due.

“I appreciate being given this opportunity, but we’re all here for the children, and they’re the ones that make it possible,” Lane said.  “And at the end of the day, I usually leave with a smile.”