May 31st, 2012
06:14 PM ET

Michigan high school athlete with Down syndrome now able to keep playing

By Michael Martinez and Kelly Andersen

The Michigan High School Athletic Association on Thursday approved a waiver provision that gives a student athlete with Down syndrome a chance to continue participating in sports despite being 19 years old.

Under the new provision, Eric Dompierre, who will be a senior in the fall, could be approved to play as early as August if the Ishpeming School District formally seeks a waiver for him, said John Johnson, spokesman for the athletic association.

Eric's father, Dean Dompierre, told CNN that he hopes other states will follow Michigan's lead in offering an exception to sports age limits for students with disabilities.

"I feel relieved," Dean Dompierre told CNN in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "It's been two and a half years. We've been petitioning and working with the association."

He said he's looking forward to "just watching Eric run down onto the field in the first football game this fall. If he can contribute to the team, even better. The same goes for basketball season."

"The hardest part has been the stress of not knowing whether or not it's going to be Eric's last season," he added.

He said he is "almost positive" that his son will be granted a waiver in August.

Eric Dompierre's underdog quest to keep playing sports in Michigan's Upper Peninsula garnered widespread attention because he has shown flashes of athletic prowess despite his Down syndrome, such as when he hit a three-point shot in the basketball playoffs to help his team maintain a comfortable lead.

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Filed under: Extracurricular • Policy
May 30th, 2012
10:40 AM ET

Girl, 6, is youngest competitor in National Spelling Bee history

By Faith Karimi, CNN

(CNN) - When Lori Anne Madison, 6, takes the stage Wednesday, she will be stepping into history as the youngest person to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

The second-grader joins 277 other contestants, marking a milestone as the youngest competitor in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, according to the event's record books dating to 1993.

Since 1993, there have been four spellers who were 8 years old, said Mike Hickerson, the bee's communications manager.

Lori Anne beat out 21 kids in the regional bee in Prince William County in Virginia, earning a spot in the national bee.

May 29th, 2012
12:05 PM ET

Dreams built inside boy's cardboard arcade

By Sonya Hamasaki, CNN

(CNN) LOS ANGELES – Nine-year-old Caine Monroy climbs a stepladder and stands on his tiptoes, grabbing a teddy bear off a wall filled with toys. In one hand, he clutches a roll of yellow raffle tickets. In the other, a wad of one-dollar bills. He’s surrounded by a cavernous gaming arcade he built himself - using old cardboard boxes, scissors and packing tape. He spins around, and faces a large crowd of customers – actual paying customers – who have lined up down the block for a chance to play his games.

In any other world, this might be a child’s game of “pretend" - a magical arcade where the “paying customers” are actually friends who came over to play.

But in Caine’s world, this isn’t a figment of the imagination. This is real.

This is Caine’s Arcade.

“This is so cool!” Caine told us when we visited his store in East Los Angeles. The world started to learn about his arcade when a short film about his venture hit the Internet and went viral about a month ago.

Today, business is booming.

Caine flips through a spiral notepad where customers leave messages. So far, he’s received visitors from Seattle, New Jersey, Canada and even as far away as Australia. “Totally awesome, dude!” one message reads.

He still can’t believe it.

It all started last summer, when Caine started building the arcade at his father’s store. Using cardboard shipping boxes which were cast aside for recycling, he built his own version of his favorite games - classics, like Skee Ball, Soccer and the Claw machine.

From scratch, he fashioned a “claw” using an S-hook tied to yarn, and carefully rolled up pieces of masking tape to make soccer balls.

Caine’s Arcade was built inside his dad’s shop, Smart Parts Aftermarket, in an industrial corner of the city. Foot traffic is sparse and young adventurers are typically few and far between. But day after day, week after week, Caine sat outside his arcade, hoping for just one person to take notice and give his Claw machine a shot.

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Filed under: Extracurricular • video
May 18th, 2012
07:05 AM ET

Student refuses to accept ADHD label

By Tamara Wilson, CNN

(CNN) This month Michelle Davis will proudly take the stage to accept her high school diploma. For her it was a journey that could have taken an entirely different turn.

When she was younger, Michelle Davis was diagnosed with a learning disability. She had trouble reading and writing. Gradually she started to fall behind other students, became disruptive and was later diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).

And according to the Journal of Psychiatric Research, teens with ADHD are more likely to drop out of high school or delay graduation.

With the help of her mother, Robyn Olivo, Michelle set out to beat the odds.

Raising three children, divorcee Robyn Olivo did all she knew how to do at the time to help Michelle with her disability. She bought “Hooked on Phonics” – educational software designed to help children read. Olivo would sit with her daughter and have her repeat words and practice vowels. Her mother signed Michelle up for cheerleading to help her spell and sound out words. Later she would pay for tutors.

“As we continued working, the more she read, the better she spelled. But it took her a long time to say the words. So she didn't like reading out loud to try to pronounce the words,” says Olivo.  She would always say, "I can't do it," and I said, "You can do it."

May 15th, 2012
07:18 AM ET

Best and worst graduation gifts

CNN's Carl Azuz speaks with Richelle Carey about the good, the bad and the outrageous when it comes to graduation gifts.

What happened to modest prom dresses?
May 9th, 2012
07:52 AM ET

What happened to modest prom dresses?

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) The sparkly, sequined prom gowns that many of us remember from the 90s – like the Glamour Shots that sometimes accompanied them – might not have been the prettiest.  But most were pretty modest compared to what some young promgoers have been squeezing themselves into this year.

At David’s Bridal, there’s a prom dress line categorized as “Sexy,” and it’s accounting for about 35 percent of the retail chain’s sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Low-cut backs, high-cut hemlines, and skin-showing cutouts define the style.

Clothing retailer AMIClubwear, self-described as “the positive place for girls,” has options that would positively trouble more conservative fathers.  The company throws revealing and tight styles into its mix of party dresses.  Factor in the racier options at other retailers like and Jovani, and you have a veritable runway of the risqué.

There’s no doubt that the dresses offered have broad appeal to some of today’s high school students; after all, demand drives the market.  But their schools are implementing dress codes to ensure certain garments aren’t worn.

For example, anything that shows off the midriff, is too low-cut (in either the front or the back), or is see-through will not been seen through the doors at Milford High School in Massachusetts.  The line is drawn at the bust line at Alabama’s Opelika High School:  “If flesh touches flesh” below that point, the prom dress code says, “the dress is inappropriate.”  It also forbids midriffs as well as slits that rise more than three inches above the knee.

Video: Teen suspended over prom dress

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Filed under: Extracurricular • High school
Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are,' dead at 83
May 8th, 2012
10:32 AM ET

Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are,' dead at 83

Maurice Sendak, author of the classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are," died from complications after a stroke on Tuesday, said Erin Crum, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins Publishers.

Sendak illustrated nearly 100 books during a 60-year career, winning dozens of accolades as he endeared himself to generations of children reared on his fanciful stories. One critic called him "the Picasso of children's literature." Former President Bill Clinton called him the "king of dreams."

Born in Brooklyn the son of Polish immigrants, Sendak grew up to take a few night classes but largely taught himself as an artist.

He is best known for his book, "Where the Wild Things Are." It tells the story of a boy named Max, who dresses in a white wolf costume and escapes his life at home by sailing to a remote land, where he discovers wild things who roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth.

May 8th, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Rock Hall of Fame hosts Chardon prom

In the wake of a deadly shooting, Chardon High School holds its prom at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. WEWS reports.

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Filed under: Extracurricular • High school • video
May 7th, 2012
04:35 PM ET

Get Real! Ban college football?

Soledad O'Brien discusses Buzz Bissinger's WSJ opinion piece in which he calls for college football to be banned.

Filed under: Extracurricular
May 7th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Dr. Shaq O'Neal on his new degree

The NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal received his doctorate in education from Barry University in Florida. Fredricka Whitfield speaks with him about the importance of education. O'Neal says, "If you have education, you'll always have something to fall back on."

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Filed under: College • Extracurricular • On air • Practice • Sports • video
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