Christina Ram wanted to shine like a Sapphire.
Now, every Thursday night, she does just that as a member of the Chapel Hill Middle School Sapphire's Drill Team.
"She has so much spirit just shining out of her," teammate Kristen Kavli said. "It makes us look better because it pumps us up, it makes us want to be as spirited as her."
17-year-old Christina has Down Syndrome.
"She had of course been in P.E. and seen these girls year after year with the pom poms," said Christina's mother, Grace.
"She would recognize me and know that I (sponsor the drill team)," Donna King said. "She would say, 'Watch me!' and she would high kick or spin around and she would tell me I want to be a Sapphire."
Sapphire instructors Donna King and Sarah Walcer decided to make Christina an honorary Sapphire for one game in 2007. The idea went over better than they planned.
"She learned our routine that took us about three weeks, she learned it in about five minutes," Donna explained, "because a lot of the way she thinks is repetitive and what we were doing was very repetitive."
Donna and Sarah invited Christina to try out for the squad last February. Her mother says Christina has shined ever since, even when the sequined uniform is off.
"The girls put make up all on her and she was like a Sapphire," Grace smiled. "She flipped her hair back, things that a girl in her teens will do and something that we haven't seen from her before. So it was really fun to see the light and the life in her face and her eyes and her mannerisms."
"She comes to my room and says I'm a Sapphire everyday," Donna King said. "I see her twice a day and everyday she reminds me, 'I'm a Sapphire.'"
Joining the team has been nothing but a positive for Christina and the girls that dance next to her.
"It's been great having Christina in the drill team because she shows us a different way of looking at stuff and how anyone can do something if they put their mind to it," Kristen Kavli said. "I think if you asked any of us last year if a girl in special education could be on a drill team we'd all say no. But we've learned. Christina can do the dances just as well as any of us can. So it gives us a new thing to think about. We shouldn't judge people before we get to know them."
"Her self confidence is much greater," her mother said. "Plus she is doing more athletic things. Before I know she had the ability but she lacked the enthusiasm, the participation. Now because of the level of inclusion for her she's just all about this."
Christina's Life Skills classmates now attend the school pep rallies, something teachers said was once a frightening experience with the shouting and loud music.
But now they see Christina and it's obvious she is a role model for anyone with a dream.
"We live it everyday," her mother Grace said. "She really does live for pep rallies and the football game later."
A crew working with PBS is currently putting together a documentary about Christina. It will be called "Embracing Christina."
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