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Class Of ’17: Another Chance At High School

Willow Blythe
Chance Hawkins

Last week, we introduced you to Chance Hawkins, a 15-year-old teen battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy who maintains a positive outlook on life in spite of the physical and academic challenges he’s facing. He failed the STAAR test at Dunbar Middle School and his mom was determined to find a smaller school for him.

We’ve since learned that Chance’s been accepted into Cassata High School – a private, non-profit school run by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. Chance and his parents say it’s just the kind of place they were looking for. First day of class was Wednesday.

“It went good,” Chance said Thursday after arriving home from school. “It’s kind of different because I’m in high school now and I have to get used to doing work. Just not for the fun…so I can graduate.”

He says graduating is important, but so is being in smaller school.

“It feels safer,” he says.

As for his mom, she’s relieved but also a little overwhelmed as she tries to figure out how to get Chance to school every day and also get him and his younger brother, Louis Jr., to their physical therapy appointments. Louis Jr. also has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Their appointments were every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, but Chance now starts school at 12:30 p.m. and goes for half a day.

His parents and Cassata officials say they’re working on finding a transportation service for him as well an aid who can help him during the school day.

Chance’s dad, Louis Boyd, said he can already tell a difference in Chance’s demeanor. Many of his new classmates are dealing with some challenges of their own. Last school year, 55 percent of the students in the senior class were the first in their family to graduate. Nearly half were former dropouts and 13 percent were teen parents.

“I think he’ll be real comfortable there,” Boyd says.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.