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Custodian loses battle with breast cancer

October 09, 2009
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SIMI VALLEY, CA — Camelia Tatu, a custodian at Mountain View Elementary School and Conejo Elementary School, died earlier this week after an eight-month battle with breast cancer, according to the Simi Valley Acorn.
According to the story, a group of students and staff will be walking for Tatu, a Romanian immigrant who held two jobs since coming to the United States, this weekend in the Relay for Life to support those affected by cancer and to raise money to battle the disease.
Tatu, who was well-liked by students and staff alike, got students involved in cleaning up trash and helping take care of the campus to teach them responsibility, the story stated.
Shelley Chipinka, an instructional aide at Mountain View Elementary School, said Tatu worked up until the Wednesday before she died; she came in Thursday but was sent home.
Tatu could not afford to fly her mother out from Romania to be with her during her illness, so students and staff donated funds for the trip, the story noted.
Francene De Fazio, Mountain View Elementary''s office manager, said: "Some were really heartbroken. But when they broke the news it actually opened up a nice dialogue. Teachers talked with their students about it, and some shared [stories] about their own family. They are already listing ways we can honor her. She was a very, very proud American. She loved the American flag and the American way."
The school is planting a garden of camellia bushes in front of the campus and are also considering installing a plaque next to the American flag all in honor of the heartfelt dedication Tatu had for her job and the students and staff she maintained the campus for, the story added.
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