Oak Grove Senior's project becomes more than just an assignment

HATTIESBURG,MS (WDAM) -  Mallory Maples is senior at Oak Grove High School.

Like every senior, Maples has to complete a senior project in order to graduate. However, it is Maples passion for a particular organization that made her project special.

"I've been a counselor at the Abby Rodgers Civitan Camp for the past two summers, and I really developed like a love and a passion for special needs kids. When I was thinking about doing my senior project, I decided I wanted to do something for them. I wanted to include them in something they have never been included in before," said Maples.

That project was the high school homecoming court.

"So, I decided that I was going to propose a change to the homecoming court policy in the handbook. I just wanted to create a category for the special needs, and have one maid and one escort chosen by the community base teachers," said Maples.

Maples says she then wrote a proposal and submitted it to the Lamar County School Board,  and to her surprise they embraced the idea and wanted to implement the Special Education category through out the district. However,  there wasn't enough time to make the change before homecoming.

"We decided that we would try to get them on the homecoming court any way," said Maples.

According to Maples, that is when she and her classmates signed up a few of these students on the ballot, then they spread the word.

"We thought we would get one or two, but I was blown away by the fact that all six were on there. Just a huge support by the students here at Oak Grove," said Maples.

According to the Community Based Special Education teacher, Stacey Todd that huge support continued for her students.

"From there, groups of people starting say what can we do to help, what can we donate. We just had all sorts of help with this," said Todd.

Todd says thanks to the help from the community, businesses and the students these kids had a homecoming night to remember. A couple of those chosen to be on the court will be the first to tell you so.

"It was amazing, said Kaitlyn Fuller.  For some reason I just love walking with my escort. He was amazing," she said.

"I like my escort. He was so nice. My dress is purple," said Amber Williams.

Maples says she hopes the Special Education category is here to stay, and she will continue to spend time with these students.

"I feel like they should be treated like any other kids here at Oak Grove. I have a special love for them," said Maples.