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Daleville student excels despite disabilities

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
May 29, 2003
When Dilandez Cherry was born premature, doctors said he would never walk or talk and may even be severely retarded if he survived.
Last week, Cherry proved the doctors wrong when he was valedictorian of the Mississippi School for the Deaf. He also received a regular high school diploma, not a special education diploma.
Cherry, or "Dee" as he is known to his friends, is almost completely deaf. He lives in Daleville with his aunt and legal guardian, Mary Hudson.
Hudson said she knew the doctors were wrong when Cherry climbed a tree in his backyard at age 6 and said he could see two neighborhood kids from where he was.
Cherry also has excelled athletically: He played basketball, football and ran track at the School for the Deaf. In fact, the walls of his room are lined with awards, plaques and trophies proof of his accomplishments.
But Cherry is humble.
In order to earn a regular high school diploma, Cherry took the same standardized tests as other public school students in Mississippi. He said this will help him achieve his goal of becoming a lawyer.
Cherry began his education at Parkview Elementary School and then went on to Magnolia Middle School, where he attended a class for the hearing impaired.
Arness also said Cherry was a fine role model for the younger students at the school.
In most ways, Cherry is much like a regular teenager. Besides basketball and football, he also likes to play on the computer, listen to music and drive his aunt's car.
After visiting his mother in Virginia this summer, Cherry said he plans to attend Hinds Community College for two years. Then, he wants to go to Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf, in Washington.

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