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She's up to any challenge

Blind since the age of 2, Danielle Shives wants to teach other blind students

Blind since the age of 2, Danielle Shives wants to teach other blind students

June 17, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

CLEAR SPRING

karenh@herald-mail.com

With all of her accomplishments, there still is one thing Clear Spring High School graduate Danielle Shives can not do.

Blind since the age of 2, Danielle, of Big Pool, regrets she can not see the faces of the people that matter most.

"I don't think it's affected me in any way other than the fact that it gets depressing ... I've seen my parents. I don't remember that," Danielle, 17, said.

Danielle, who was left blind by a brain tumor just months before her brother Ethan, 15, was born, credits her family with helping her throughout her school career.

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Danielle, the class salutatorian, spoke at graduation June 9.

Math teacher Roland Cline said he and Danielle adopted some new approaches to calculus to accommodate her blindness.

"It was more than just an answer. It was, 'Danielle, what do you have down for your next line?' And, as she would read it back, I would have to write it down because I had to see it," Cline said.

A diehard Baltimore Orioles fan, Danielle said she and her family have played baseball together, her father telling her when to swing.

She bagged her first buck while hunting with her father more than two years ago. Her father sighted the deer for her using a specially designed rifle.

Danielle is the daughter of Sherry and Bruce "Andy" Shives.

"I've done things that sighted people tell me they'd never do," said Danielle, who once scaled a 30-foot climbing wall.

Danielle and her mother said she taught herself to ride a bike. She just took off the training wheels and off she went.

Then she taught Ethan how to ride, too.

"She's determined," Sherry Shives said.

Danielle said she wishes people would see there is more to her than her blindness and the Braille books and red-tipped cane she has used to navigate life at school.

"I don't understand why it's not common knowledge, why it's not easier for people to approach me," Danielle said.

Danielle said a student once kicked her cane away from her as she walked down the hallway. Most students ignore her, she said.

Danielle, who plans to attend Hagerstown Community College in the fall, wants to become a teacher to help other blind students.

"Right now, I'm thinking I'd like to be an itinerant, which would mean I would travel all over the county and help with anyone," she said.

Cline said he already has offered to help Danielle with anything she needs along the way. Like the Class of 2005, he too is moving on.

"This is my last year teaching. I've been here 34 years, so it was a really nice way for me to go out, too, to have this challenge, to do something a little beyond the norm," said Cline, who called Danielle a "remarkable" person.

Sherry Shives said her daughter has always been positive.

"She's just pretty much like any other kid, you know, and probably wants the same things," Shives said of her daughter.

Students wandered from the gymnasium to the cafeteria where Shives talked during an interview about two weeks before the close of school.

Danielle, who took weightlifting to satisfy her high school physical-education requirements, loves sports.

"I don't complain too much about not being able to do some things, but that's one thing that I do wish I could do more of," Danielle said.

Though she concedes she sometimes argues with her family, Danielle said her parents and brother have been her biggest fans.

"Some of the things that kids say about their parents is just horrible," Danielle said.

Danielle said she tries not to forget how much her family has done for her.

Unlike some of her peers, Danielle can not judge people by their appearances.

"I think there are definitely things that everyone takes for granted that I don't," she said.

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