REMARKABLE SENIORS; Loss of Hearing Doesn't Stop Goals Worry Otim Is Set to Graduate with an Eye on a Professional Soccer Career

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

Worry Otim was just 6 weeks old when the vehicle in which his family was traveling to relocate to Uganda struck a land mine. Worry was thrown out a window.

His family believes that is the day he lost his hearing, according to Jennie Wallace, his interpreter at Ed White High School.

After beginning his education in a refuge camp in Uganda, Worry was later sent to a boarding school for deaf students. It was there he learned to play soccer, according to his interpreter.

He relocated to Florida in 2004 with his father, brother and two sisters. Now 19, Worry is preparing to graduate from Ed White, where he has played on the soccer team.

"Worry strives to play the game fairly," Wallace said. "If by chance an opponent is hurt, he has stopped to help as the game continues around him."

He was awarded "most valuable player" at his school.

"He's got natural ability," soccer coach Clint Lyons said. "He's one of those guys who doesn't look like he's trying. He just naturally slides around people."

In addition to soccer, Worry has excelled in his woodworking class, where he's made various projects, including a step stool, end tables and a game cabinet.

Wood shop teacher Alan Rogers called some of Worry's wood-burning work by hand "outstanding." Rogers said he learned sign language after 30 years of teaching.

"He has also been a teacher to me, and has been a real help to all the students in his classes as he helps them with their projects," Rogers said.

Wallace said Worry would like to play on a professional soccer team after he graduates, and continue with his woodworking.

mary.palka@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4104

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Some have made top grades. Others have excelled in sports, art or music. Most have volunteered in their community. Many have endured more heartache and difficulties than most adults experience in their lifetime. All are graduating from a Northeast Florida high school this year.

Here are the stories of the Times-Union's 2009 Remarkable Seniors, based on nominations from their principals, guidance counselors or teachers.

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KATELYN GOODWIN

HILLIARD HIGH

Katelyn Goodwin, 17, came to high school as a shy girl, but quickly took on a lot of responsibility. She's a member of the character and leadership BETA club and National Honor Society. She became the senior class president. …

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