celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Illness made homework pile up

By Brad Newman

A vicious illness often kept Grayson Carnes from attending his high school classes for three years.

But Carnes' dedication to schoolwork despite his ailments will be rewarded as the 18-year-old graduates from Randall High School on May 29.

Carnes first noticed persistent sickness in middle school.

"It went from headaches and sore throats to flu symptoms," he said. "And as soon as I'd get over it, it seems I'd catch something else."

The illness, which couldn't be diagnosed, continued into his freshman year. Frequent doctor visits were followed by lengthy bouts at home recovering.

Meanwhile, his schoolwork mounted.

"It was very stressful and frustrating," Carnes said. "When I'd pick up my homework, I'd have pages and pages and pages to do, and sometimes I'd have no idea how to do it."

Carnes estimated he missed about 25 percent of classes from ninth to 11th grade.

"Grayson's absenteeism was outrageous, yet he would always get his work done," said Jill Brown, Carnes' counselor at Randall High School.

"And not only would he complete the assignments, but he was an outstanding student who always challenged himself academically."

Teachers worked with Carnes to make up assignments, and his family was a constant encouragement, he said.

"People always said it would pay off in the long run if I didn't give up," Carnes said. "They pushed me to keep working."

Carnes' sickness was diagnosed near the end of his junior year as a severe case of the Epstein-Barr virus.

"My treatments began working and this year, I've been much better," he said.

The senior plans to study aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Carnes said the experience will give him confidence for all his life endeavors.

"Getting through this, I know now I can overcome any other obstacle, no matter how daunting," he said. "My diploma will prove that I'm able to do whatever I set my mind to do."

Editor's note: Beating the Odds is a series published in the Amarillo Globe-News from May 10-24 that tells the stories of all kinds of students who are graduating despite challenges they've faced. It is part of Celebrate Education, a program designed to bring awareness to the need of educational attainment in the Texas Panhandle.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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