Hearing impaired Haughton student overcomes the odds as a flag twirler
HAUGHTON, LA (KSLA) -
Being hearing impaired and a part of the high school band isn't an easy combination, but one Ark-La-Tex student is working hard to beat the odds. Two years ago, 17-year-old Kelsy Baker, took a big chance, she tried out for Haughton High School's flag line.
"I was actually really scared of trying out, but I did," said Baker. Mostly deaf in both ears, she knew it would be a challenge to join an activity that largely depends on hearing the beat of the music. But she didn't let her disability stop her, and earned a spot on the team and with it a sense of belonging. "It doesn't make me feel like an outcast because I can't hear, it makes me feel like I'm part of the band family that we have here."
She can't wear her hearing aids during practice or performance. Instead, she largely relies on reading lips, even then only catching 70% of what is said. But she has learned ways around her challenges. "I rely on counts, I rely on the drum majors, and on the people, they help me a long, so if I miss something, they tell me what I missed."
"There are only two words that she can't really ever understand and that's: I can't," explained band director Kevin Williams, who adds that what Kelsy thinks is her greatest challenge, is actually her greatest asset. Williams said that by her not being able to hear, it forces her to pay attention and work harder. "That makes me work harder, that makes our band work harder, it makes us better people and a better band. "
Baker is going to be a senior next year, but she doesn't want her flag line experience to end when she graduates, "I want to do color guard for as long as I can," she said. She plans to try out for the flag line team when she goes to college.
In the meantime, she hopes others with disabilities will learn from her story, that they too can overcome the odds.