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Brookfield Central High School plans special graduation for senior battling cancer

The student has battled cancer since he was 11
Posted: 4:45 PM, May 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-25 23:41:08Z
Special graduation held for student with cancer
Special graduation held for student with cancer
Special graduation held for student with cancer
Special graduation held for student with cancer
Special graduation held for student with cancer

A Brookfield teen battling brain cancer didn't think he'd be able to graduate with his classmates, until his school came together at the last minute to hold an impromptu ceremony, just for him.

Andrew Wernicke is a senior at Brookfield Central High School and he's been battling brain cancer since he was 11-years-old.

Thursday was his last day of school before he leaves for Georgia for another round of treatment, meaning he would miss his school's June 11 graduation.

So at 2 p.m., in the school's cafeteria, Wernicke graduated high school.

"I feel really great," he said. "Just everyone that could be here for my graduation just means so much to me."

The school's principal, Brett Gruetzmacher, says he and several other staff members met the night before to plan the last-minute ceremony that included a band, the school's choir and the rest of the seniors also wearing their caps and gowns.

They also made a special program for the event and a cake with Wernicke's name on it.

"As adults and fellow classmates, we can learn a lot about how to handle adversity through Andrew," Gruetzmacher said. "He comes to school when he is not feeling well at all, he comes to school when he's in pain and he just tries to do the best he can."

Wernicke's cancer keeps returning. He found out in January it's now in his spine and spinal cord. He and his family are constantly researching new treatments.

He's gone through chemotherapy, radiation and multiple brain surgeries.

"Yet he's persevered through that and here he is," Gruetzmacher said.

Wernicke says he couldn't have made it this far without the support of his family, friends and classmates.

"They've helped me and supported me through all of this if I didn't have them, I don't know where I'd be right now," he said.