Education

Henry Clay students vote special needs couple homecoming king and queen

Wake Mullins, left, and Ali Hoch are active with the basketball and soccer teams, respectively.
Wake Mullins, left, and Ali Hoch are active with the basketball and soccer teams, respectively. Herald-Leader

Ali Hoch and Wake Mullins were just happy to be there — in the court at Henry Clay High School's homecoming this month

Then the special needs students, both seniors, were named homecoming king and queen.

Ali wore a pink gown with white half-gloves; Wake wore a snazzy suit with a pink bow tie.

It was a memorable night for both — and for their parents, who say that it illustrates how well Henry Clay High School integrates its special education students into the school community.

"I wasn't expecting it," Ali Hoch said of being named homecoming queen.

The pair's teachers at Henry Clay, including Whitney Burns and Samantha Hance, were cheering them on as they were honored.

"The way they support and treat the special needs kids, it's incredible," said Dwight Hoch, Ali Hoch's father.

Kim Gaines, Wake Mullins' mother, said that when her son — who at 6-foot-6, towers over the 4-foot-11 Hoch — was transitioning from Morton Middle School to Henry Clay, she worried how such a large school would accommodate her son's needs.

But, she said, "It has been such a positive for him at Henry Clay."

Wake has been a boys' basketball manager all four years and last year became a member of Henry Clay's golf team. He is a fan of PGA golf.

"All the kids have been so good and so supportive, I can't tell you one time in his four years there that he has been bullied or picked on," Gaines said. "He has been so accepted. ... It's about that student body including these special needs kids and treating them as every other peer in the school."

Wake and Ali, who plays soccer for Henry Clay, also have been active in the Kentucky Special Olympics. Two other Kentucky Special Olympians, Clayton Collins and Brittany Ware, were named homecoming king and queen in Spencer County in October, prompting superintendent Chuck Adams to praise the student body for voting "on values of moral character, integrity, and kindness."

Both Henry Clay students have typical teen interests. Ali likes to play games on the Wii video system, talk on the telephone and play with her two dogs. And, in her musical tastes, she is partial to the candy-colored sounds of Katy Perry. Wake likes the music of Pitbull and Michael Jackson, as well as the soundtrack to the movie Frozen.

Gaines, Wake's mother, said he was looking forward to his 2015 graduation.

He wants to get a job. Following his passion, he wants to work at a golf course.

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