Devin Harris and Taylor Ayo: Cougars of the Month

Many high school students dream of being on their school’s homecoming court, and for Apex High School’s 2017 court, the student body nominated two of their special needs classmates to have that opportunity. After festivities including skits, the parade, and the football game, seniors Devin Harris and Taylor Ayo took home the title of King and Princess respectively. Apex High is very proud to see these students recognized for ‘staying PEAK’ throughout their high school careers, and it has left an impact on Harris and Ayo’s lives that they will always remember. Mrs. Chiarolanzio, who has been heavily involved in their time at AHS, has spoken on their behalf as they have been further recognized as our Cougars of the Month.


Q: How long have you been working with Devin and Taylor?

A: “I have been teaching at Apex High School for four years, and Taylor has been in my class all four years. Devin is in the MOD class, so he’s not technically my student, but I’ve interacted with him and been around him for all four years as well.”


Q: Were they surprised to be crowned King and Princess?

A: “Yeah they were super surprised! Devin had no idea, so when the nominations came over the announcements the whole class went nuts and they were like “What? No way!” I think Taylor was really overwhelmed. She gets really shy around new people, but she did fantastic. I was really surprised with how well she reacted and was able to keep everything together.”


Q: How do you feel about Devin and Taylor being recognized in this way?

A: “It’s very overwhelming. My heart is really filled with happiness and pride. My students are different, super different, and people tend to shy away or look away from different just because they don’t know how to act or react. For them to be not only truly seen but recognized, celebrated, and appreciated, I think it’s pretty fantastic that they were a part of something that their families will never forget, they will never forget, and a true high school experience that not a lot of our students get to experience.”


Q: What is your favorite part about working with them and their class as a whole?

A: “My favorite part about working with my students is how happy and care-free they are, and how the little things just make them so happy. Interaction, attention, playing games, and doing little things; they’re not worried about typical high school stressors. It’s really refreshing for them to come in every day and be super excited to be here. They’re genuinely happy.”


Q: Do you have a favorite memory from your time with Devin and Taylor that sticks out to you?

A: “I don’t really have one specific memory, but Taylor is like my ray of sunshine. She literally comes in every single day with a huge smile on her face, so excited to be here, and so happy. Any time I’m having a bad day or am in a wonky mood, I see her and she is so genuinely happy. It fills my heart.”


Q: What will you miss most about having the two of them in your class?

A: “I’ll miss the presence that they bring, their pure happiness, and their excitement. Like I said, they are so appreciative of little things that you and I might overlook, but they notice and the little things are such big things.”


Congratulations again to Harris and Ayo for being recognized as Homecoming royalty and our Cougars of the Month! Be sure to congratulate them as well if you see them around school. Stay PEAK Cougars!

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