Local News

May 12, 2013

‘A perfect pick’

Student with cerebral palsy named prom queen at CCHS

In many ways, Desaray Carroll is a typical high school teenager.

She texts nonstop, hangs out with her friends, goes to the movies and out to eat.

The 19-year-old Coahulla Creek High School student is surrounded with a family and friends who love and support her, so much so they campaigned for the student body to elect her prom queen a few weeks ago.

Everyone except Carroll seemed sure she would win. But after a lifetime of being picked on for being different, she never thought she could be the same as those around her.

“At my old school, I got made fun of,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to school. It was really hard. At one point I quit school, but I came back.”

Carroll has cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement and posture. People with cerebral palsy can have exaggerated movements, rigidity of the limbs, involuntary movements, unsteadiness while walking or any combination of those symptoms.

She struggles with her speech — though after a few minutes with her, she becomes easier to understand — and movements on the right side of her body.

So going from the person being picked on to the point of quitting school to being given a title that comes with such an implication of popularity seemed like a stretch for her.

When her name was called out on prom night announcing she had been named prom queen, Carroll was naturally and genuinely shocked.

“I didn’t believe it,” she said. “I really like it here. They don’t look at me like I have cerebral palsy.”

Carroll’s friends and her teachers said they believe it is a great testimony to the student body at Coahulla Creek.

 “Their heart is in the right place,” said Josh Swiney, Carroll’s math inclusion teacher. “They’ve been around her and wanted that for her. She’s awesome.”

Andy Toth, a sign language interpreter of the school and adviser to the sign language club, of which Carroll is a member, said he knew the student body was rallying for Carroll.

“I prayed all weekend she’d get it since I couldn’t vote,” Toth said. “She is a perfect pick for it. We’ve got a good student body. They’re not caught up in stereotypes. We realize what’s real.”

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