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August 14, 2014 Vol. 1 Issue 8 A Walk by Faith, Not Sight Buckner Clarion PRSRT STD ECRWSS U.S. POSTAGE PAID EDDM RETAIL Local Postal Customer The At 17, Zachary (Zach) McSwain was diagnosed with keratoconus, pronounced ker-uh-toh-koh-nus. The condition is a degenerative disease that can lead to vision loss as well as decreased ability for good vision in glasses and/or contacts. Keratoconus is progressive in nature, and much harder to treat if not diagnosed early. Approximately 1 in 750 patients in America are diagnosed with keratoconus. This condition causes the cornea to weaken, become progressively thinner and irregular in shape which brings on astigmatism and ultimately poor vision. Premature births can cause keratoconus. Zach, who was born five weeks and six days premature, needed to get oxygen through a ventilator. One side effect was impaired vision. With annual visits to the eye doctor, he was diagnosed with astigmatism in fifth grade. The condition was explained to the McSwains as a "normal childhood condition." Years later, the telltale signs that Zach was having more pronounced vision trouble became apparent. His mother, Kelli McSwain, said it was the way he positioned his head when watching TV, delayed responses in sports and the need to have close proximity to the page when he was reading or writing. It's safe to say that keratoconus has been life-altering for Zach. "In the beginning, as a teenager, he seemed embarrassed to have a physical handicap and became reclusive," Kelli said. "But as time passed, with acceptance and his strong faith, Zach has handled his diagnosis better than his father and me." Trying to help Zach find a career and attend college has been another challenge. Kelli said the Rehabilitation of the Blind advised that visually impaired students should take only one college course at a time due to eye strain. Thus, they've had to ensure Zach's schedule was manageable. "Most adults his age have had various job experience. But over the years, Zach has mowed lawns to make some money so he wouldn't have to rely on someone for transportation while his father and I are at work." (Cont. pg. 4) The first day of school in the Fort Osage School District begins today but the work among staff, educators and principals started weeks before. Karen Hile, Buckner Elementary School principal, began her first school day as a Buckner Bobcat on July 28. Hile said all school policies and procedures that were effective prior to her placement will remain the same. "I'm not looking to make a lot of changes," she said. "I want to build on existing programs. I'm excited to begin working with the teachers and want to be fully involved with listening to their ideas. I want to help implement their ideas in ways they can be successful as educators, as well as programs that are beneficial to the students." Hile said one way to ensure success is to become familiar with students, their families and the community. Her ultimate goal is to help each child grow, learn and be successful. She feels this is attainable by building positive partnerships. "Last spring, I was given the incredible opportunity to start my administrative career with the Fort Osage School District," Hile said in a letter addressed to the parents and families of Buckner. "During my 11 years in education, Fort Osage stood out as a district with a strong sense of purpose and community. Since my arrival at Buckner Elementary, I continue to be more and more impressed with the staff's amazing talent and the unwavering dedication and support of families. What an incredible honor to be principal at the school you entrust your children every single day. I hope as we get to know each other better, you'll find me worthy of that trust." By Tonia Wright New Principal Aims to Build On School's Successes

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