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Spotsylvania seniors overcome much to graduate
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By PAMELA GOULD
When people look back on their
But for some members of this year's senior class, those teenage milestones aren't what will be remembered in years to come.
Many encountered adult-level challenges
Spotsylvania County's five high schools
Today, The Free Lance-Star begins a series of profiles on the Class of 2012 from across the region, focusing on students who persevered through trials to earn their diplomas. Congratulations to each of them for their fortitude and to all members of this year's graduates.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
MEGAN FOWLER, CHANCELLOR HIGH WHAT SHE OVERCAME: Megan earned a 4.0 GPA her first two years of high school, taking a tough curriculum, but at the start of her junior year she became ill and began sleeping 17 hours a day. It took about three months to diagnose a heart issue, believed to have resulted from another illness. She returned to school part time in January, taking medicine to prevent lightheadedness and blackouts. She gradually built back up to full school days, but continues dealing with the challenges of postural tachycardia syndrome. IN HER WORDS: "I'm relieved becauseI have a diagnosis and a way to control it, and a lifestyle in better control." The experience changed her outlook on life. "People are self-centered and I can understand that because that's our society, but I don't want to be like that. I want to know there is a greater purpose in what I am doing." WHAT'S NEXT: Earn a degree in global studies at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
KELSEY TEEPLE, COURTLAND HIGH
WHAT SHE OVERCAME: Kelsey's father became ill when she was in seventh grade, and died at the end of her 11th-grade year, in June 2011. He was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy, a rare degenerative neurological disease. It slowly progressed and he spent a lot of time in the hospital while Kelsey was growing up. Sometimes, she had to go straight to the hospital after school and didn't get home to start her homework until 10 p.m. Kelsey has found solace in God during her father's illness. She got more involved with her church, Lifepoint Church in Spotsylvania, and has started reading her Bible more.IN HER WORDS: "It's been hard, but I try to make him proud and do what he would want. I learned that no matter what you go through, God's always there to help you." WHAT'S NEXT: Kelsey will attend Liberty University in the fall. She plans to study elementary education, though she doesn't know what grade she wants to teach. Her mom, Kady Teeple, is a physical education teacher at Parkside Elementary School.
ADAM WILLIAMS, MASSAPONAX HIGH
WHAT HE OVERCAME: Adam was in seventh grade when he passed out from pain in his gut. That started a two-year saga of tests and treatments to pinpoint the problem. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and had his colon removed. He missed most of his junior year but took an online course and homebound instruction to keep up. While hospitalized, he reached out to others with similar problems, offering help from what he had learned. He also volunteered at school and in the community during recovery.IN HIS WORDS: "I learned that my family and friends were there for me when I really needed them." In turn, he pressed ahead to encourage his parents. "I was kind of doing it for them because I wanted to see them happy and let them know I'm going to make it through this." WHAT'S NEXT: Study computer science at Germanna Community College and then a technical school. He wants to get a certificate in Virtual Private Network Security and find a job with a private company.
ELENA DIBIASI, RIVERBEND HIGH
WHAT SHE OVERCAME: An injury to her lower right leg during tae kwon do in eighth grade led to a medical saga that ended in diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Surgeons removed her tibia--the larger bone of the lower leg--and replaced it with a cadaver bone. She also underwent nine months of chemotherapy, and now is in remission. Elena spent the first two years of high school in homebound instruction and then had to double up history courses her junior year to graduate on time.IN HER WORDS: "My mom and I are basically best friends because we've gone through so much together." Elena's motto: "Always expect the worst, but always hope for the best." WHAT'S NEXT: Germanna Community College for two years, then University of Mary Washington to major in zoology and minor in music. She wants to work at the National Zoo in animal conservation, focused on the animals of Africa.
ANNA-MARIE CORSEY SPOTSYLVANIA HIGH
WHAT SHE OVERCAME: Anna-Marie attended at least four elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools as she moved from place to place as what the federal government classifies as a homeless student, or "unaccompanied minor." With a lifelong goal of becoming an elementary school teacher, she interned at Robert E. Lee Elementary School and made sure she was college-ready by taking Advanced Placement courses.IN HER WORDS: "I've always wanted to be a teacher." She especially enjoys helping children learn to read. She sees no obstacles to reaching her goals because of her can-do attitude. "I get things done." WHAT'S NEXT: Study elementary education at the University of Mary Washington. She received more than $42,000 in scholarships.