Three Hyattsville, Maryland, students with learning challenges celebrated their induction into the National Honor Society at a ceremony on Wednesday.
Hannah Story, Amara Turner and Russell Collins Jr. stood in front of a sea of fellow students from the Chelsea School and pledged to “uphold the high purposes” of the society.
The school, which focuses solely on K-through-12 students with learning challenges, now has eight students in the society -- a feat that some thought impossible.
For Story, Turner and Collins, the pins were proof of their perseverance.
"I think now that I'm in this position now, I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to,” Story said.
Story said the honor has made her more inspired to become a kindergarten teacher.
Turner, who has struggles with reading, explained how she achieved the accomplishment.
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"It takes a lot of hard work to stay focused in school. Make sure you keep your head where it needs to be,” she said.
Like Turner, Collins recognized how hard he worked to earn his spot in the society.
“I worked really hard and I didn’t think I’d get it, but I’m here now and am extremely grateful,” he said.
Collins also credits his teachers, advisers and family for his accomplishment.
The three were honored with applause from their teachers and classmates who attended the induction.
School officials said they hope the inductions will inspire other students.
“Our hope is that our other students look at these students and say ‘they're just like me. If they can do it, I can achieve the same goals, as well,’" said Kristal Weems-Bradner, co-head of the school.
The school tries to focus on the individual needs of students. Average class sizes at the school are five to six students.
The parents of the students who were inducted expressed how proud they were of their children.
"The way that she works, nothing is going to stop her,” Amara Turner's mother, Kahli Turner, said.
Robin Story, Hannah Story’s mother, got emotional when talking about her daughter.
“Hannah never gave up and that’s -- I’m going to start to tear up,” she said before hugging Hannah. “She never gave up and the Chelsea school has given her this opportunity.”
Russell Collins' father, Russell Collins Sr., also talked about his thoughts on his son’s induction.
“It’s a statement to all those people who think their children can’t,” Collins said.