Stow teen battling brain cancer virtually attends class with cut - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Stow teen battling brain cancer virtually attends class with cutting edge robot

VGo enables Leah Merriman to virtually attend school. (Source: WOIO) VGo enables Leah Merriman to virtually attend school. (Source: WOIO)
Leah Merriman, 13, of Stow, is battling brain cancer, but is still able to attend school with VGo, a first-of-its-kind robot. (Source: WOIO) Leah Merriman, 13, of Stow, is battling brain cancer, but is still able to attend school with VGo, a first-of-its-kind robot. (Source: WOIO)
STOW, OH (WOIO) -

Using a robot to sit in social studies class next to her classmates is how Leah Merriman attends eighth grade.

"She is able to attend pep rallies. She's able to attend speakers. She's a part of Kimpton. She's here," said Kimpton Middle School Assistant Principal Michael Love.

Love said Leah takes five courses, five days a week. 

All of the courses are through VGo.

It's a first-of-its-kind robot that virtually takes Leah places she otherwise wouldn't be able to be.

"She can participate in class, she can talk in class, she can move the VGo during the class session," said Love.

Many teens take classroom interaction for granted, but Leah doesn't. 

The 13-year-old student has brain cancer. 

She wants to be in class, but she physically can't make it to school.

"Unfortunately, she can't navigate the halls with that, and the VGo has made it really a lot easier for her," said Love. 

 The VGo is pretty much just like Facetime. Sitting at home, Leah can use her laptop and see exactly what her class is doing through a webcam. Using lights, she can ask her teacher a question. She can also take a screenshot of the day's lesson.

"If I say, OK, everyone be ready to answer. She's ready. I don't look at her any different than any other student," said Leah's Social Studies teacher, Leslie Shannon.

Leah was camera shy the day we stopped by, so we spoke with her friend, Olivia Casalinova.

"She says it's really cool that I get to go to school and that's really cool that she still can," said Olivia. 

Olivia is one of the students in charge of the VGo. 

Using a remote, she takes the robot off the charger every morning and walks with Leah to class.

"She told me that when she's walking through the hallway everyone looks at her and she says she feels like a celebrity," said Olivia. 

Despite all the attention, Leah and the VGo blend into the classroom seamlessly, which helps to add a bit of normality into Leah's life.

Leah's mom is the one who brought the idea of the VGo to the school's attention.

It cost the district a few thousand dollars, but they believe it's worth the money to help their student learn.

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