Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

REMARKABLE SENIORS Aaliyah Butler Wolfson H. S. Her Quiet Dignity Impresses Teacher

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

REMARKABLE SENIORS Aaliyah Butler Wolfson H. S. Her Quiet Dignity Impresses Teacher

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony DeFeo

Seven short years ago, things were looking grim for Aaliyah Butler.

The then-middle school student had been diagnosed with a rare blood disease, Histiocytosis X, which had caused her to develop a brain tumor. She was forced to spend most of her sixth-grade year in the hospital.

But even as she struggled through rounds of chemotherapy, she kept up with her schoolwork. And if you asked her how she was doing, she'd always say she was fine.

Now a healthy 17-year-old graduating senior at Wolfson High School, by all accounts, Aaliyah is one of the strongest young adults among her peers.

Jacquie Tinsley, her AP Literature teacher, had no idea what Aaliyah had gone through until the girl asked Tinsley to proofread her college essay.

"I said, 'I can't believe she's never shared that with anybody,'a" said Tinsley. "Aaliyah is one of those students who is all-around a great person, but she's so quiet and doesn't draw attention to herself. I just really wanted everybody to have a chance to know."

"I didn't think at first I deserved it," said Aaliyah. "I thought I was like everyone else."

Aaliyah has been accepted to Monroe College in New Rochelle, N.Y., where she plans to pursue her longtime dream of becoming a lawyer.

"She has worked hard and she has had a rough journey and she came out on top," said Aaliyah's mother, Lakesha Nealon. "She, throughout those times, inspired me because she never gave up, she always smiled."

Butler encourages other students who might be going through difficult periods to do the same.

"Never give up. You never know what's at the end of your path," said Aaliyah.

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 2012 Remarkable Seniors, based on nominations from their principals, guidance counselors or teachers. …

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