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Georgia School for the Deaf Graduates Five Seniors | Events

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Georgia School for the Deaf Graduates Five Seniors
Events, Schools
Georgia School for the Deaf Graduates Five Seniors

CAVE SPRING, GA -- Senior year is a test of endurance for the high school students at Georgia School for the Deaf.

But in 2010, five seniors passed that test with flying colors.

"We call them 'senior' seniors because they've been in high school well past four years," said GSD director Lee Shiver. "They made up their minds they were not going to accept a special education diploma or a certificate of attendance when they and all of us knew they were capable of earning a regular diploma."

New expectations for participating in graduation exercises at the school meant that no student would be permitted to graduate unless he was a special education student or had earned a regular diploma. With the promise of a December graduation ceremony if they earned their regular diplomas, the "Fab Five" -- Brittney Daughtry, Davion Gilling, Ryan Hall, Tim Simmons and Eric Welch -- continued to take classes and study.

Having earned the credits for completing the required coursework, the seniors only faced one more obstacle to graduation: the Georgia High School Graduation Test, which often proves challenging for deaf students. The Fab Five took and retook the test until they were all successful.

Raising expectations for the students who want to graduate and be eligible for postsecondary education opportunities has become standard for most students who now attend GSD.

For the school, which did not award any regular diplomas in 2005 and 2006, the first-ever December graduation ceremony is a cause for celebration. It's also an accomplishment that Shiver wants all of his students to understand and admire.

"That's why we're doing this during the school day," he said. "I want all of our students, from kindergarten to high school, to understand how important this is and why this should be their goal as well. All five of these students are well-liked and are wonderful role models for our kids."

The Fab Five are also accomplished student athletes. Brittney was the Most Valuable Player at the 2008 Mason-Dixon Girls' Basketball Tournament, which is held annually at the campus of one of the 11 participating deaf schools in the Southeast. Davion, Ryan, Tim and Eric all played varsity basketball and were members of the school's 2007 8 Men Football All-American Team. Tim was named the National Deaf Prep Football Player of the Year in 2008.

"They are certainly to be admired because in the past, when our students used up their athletic eligibility, they typically either dropped out or expected a certificate of attendance," said GSD principal Leslie Jackson. "These five have demonstrated to all of our students, their families and our teachers that determination, perseverance and the will to achieve can make a difference that matters for life after GSD."

Graduation exercises will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 2:00 p.m. in Whitworth Gym on the GSD campus (232 Perry Farm Road SW, Cave Spring, 30124). State Superintendent of Schools-Elect John Barge will assist in the conferring of diplomas, and State Board of Education member Al Hodge will deliver the commencement address.

The public is invited to attend and celebrate with GSD students and staff.

Events, Schools