Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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October 28, 2013

CHS homecoming royalty overcome challenges to succeed

Corsicana — So often in education students are labeled with disabilities. This is a story about two students abilities to overcome obstacles and inspire a student body.

The 2013 Homecoming Pep Rally at Corsicana High School was full of excitement. The Navarro College National Championship Cheer team performed, and the CHS volleyball and football players were encouraging fan participation for games to be held that night. One football player quiets the audience and asks for support, as there would be a special performance.  

It was at that moment the football players, Calicos, and cheerleaders grabbed the hands and wheelchairs of special needs students and led them to the center of the court. The crowd began to cheer as the music began and the students, together, performed for the student body. It was a performance to be remembered. A mix of songs, special dance moves, and a special group of students — of all abilities — side-by-side, inviting a crowd to cheer them on. Herbert O’Neil, CHS principal, standing front and center of the audience could not contain his emotion.

The King is …

After the performances were done, it was time for the anticipated 2013 Homecoming King announcement.

“This year’s 2013 Homecoming King is Samson Gregg,” said the announcer. The students cheered again as Samson Gregg, grinning from ear-to-ear, was escorted to the front of the crowd to receive his crown and sash.

“Samson is one of the nicest, sweetest students I know,” said Bre Osbourn, director of the CHS Band. “He has played the clarinet in the band for years. He is a really special student.”   

While Gregg is a man of few words, his mind is always busy.  

“I have always known that Samson is special,” said Dorothy, Gregg’s mother. “But I refused to place a label on him that made him feel different.”

In Gregg’s seventh grade year, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Autism. This rare condition is often considered to be a “high functioning” version of Autism. Thanks to his mother’s persistence and faith, she encouraged Gregg’s gift of music and he learned to play many instruments as a child. “He is an accomplished musician and plays every Sunday at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church.”

Samson is known by many students and teachers to have “notes” of encouragement that usually include Bible versus.  

“I think Samson has a sixth sense to know when someone needs a little encouragement,” said Associate Principal Elmer Avellaneda. “He seems to appear with the right message in a note form, just when you need it.”

What does Samson say about his Homecoming King designation?  

“God is awesome,” and he grins. Samson plans to go to college after graduation from CHS. “I want to be a preacher… an engineer… and I want to travel,” said Gregg.  

The Homecoming Queen…

Veronica Reyes was announced during half time of the Homecoming game as the 2013 CHS Queen. Reyes, the youngest of six siblings, is humbled by her new found fame. Her down-to-earth and friendly personality is spread throughout the campus covering a broad range of areas from athletics and student council to honor society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Outside of school, Reyes boasts with pride as she speaks of her Youth Leadership role at First Baptist Church.  

“My faith is an important part of my life,” she said. My church family has been very supportive of me.”  

It appears that Reyes’ success comes easy for her. Then, she props her hand on the table.  

“I have a disability,” said Reyes.  She mentions that due to a birth defect (Amniotic Band Syndrome) that she has full use of only one hand. “But this has never held me back,” says Reyes. Reyes is on the Volleyball and Track team at CHS. She is also sings and plays the guitar.  

“I am honored to be selected as Homecoming Queen,” Reyes said. “I hope that I may inspire others to be successful, and to never place limitations on themselves.”

Reyes plans to attend college and pursue studies in Early Childhood Development.

“There is no doubt that these two students, through their persistence and faith, will continue to inspire those around them,” said O’Neil. “It is an honor to have them at Corsicana High School.”

—————

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