Kelsey Baboul, 17, just completed her junior year at St. John Central High School in Bellaire. The accomplishment was made more difficult for her than for most because she is still recovering from the effects of chemotherapy treatment for leukemia.
She was diagnosed with the disease in June 2010. In January 2011, she received high dose chemotherapy treatments and went into a coma. When she came out of the coma, she was partially paralyzed. She spent three months in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
When she was able to come home in March 2011, she started catching up on her school work as a home school student working with the St. John staff. Her mother, Lucy Baboul, credits the St. John faculty and administration for helping her to complete her sophomore year last summer and being able to complete this past school year.
Kelsey Baboul has overcome substantial obstacles to complete her junior year of high school and take part in dance
competition after being diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.
In addition, the young Baboul has been a dance student since she was 2 and is a member of the St. John's Pomerettes. When she was able, she returned to her dance lessons and rejoined her Pomerettes squad.
"The doctors in Pittsburgh told her to try to be as normal as possible," her mother said. "This has been a learning experience for all of us. The teachers have worked through so much with her and have been so accommodating.
"What this school has done has been amazing," Lucy Baboul added. "I can't thank them enough. I'm so thankful to the school for what they have done. Everyone has been so understanding. So many have given her the emotional support all cancer patients need. They have truly shown Christian love and spirit."
At her dance school, The Dance Difference in St. Clairsville, Kelsey also has picked up where she left off. She has earned three gold awards at three dance competitions this year, and she has been offered scholarships and the opportunity to attend dance schools in New York.
"When she comes on stage she just floats," Angila Harris, owner of the studio, said. "I think there has only been one time when I heard her say 'I can't.' What she missed she has already made up."
St. John Principal Shelia Blackmore added, "We've learned a lot from her courage. She received the Courageous Student Award this year and was in the homecoming court. She shows amazing spirit. Other students can learn from her."
Doctors credit her dance efforts and walking the steps at the school for helping her to progress as much as she has. When she first returned to class she used a walker, then a cane. Now she walks without either.
Baboul credits the teachers and the caring of school administrators for her academic accomplishments and the help of her dance instructors for her being able to compete in dance.
Blackmore noted, "We take care of each other here. We're like a family."
"Teenage years are tough enough without medical setbacks, and without St. John's and The Dance Difference my daughter would not be the positive, strong-spirited young lady she is today," Lucy Baboul concluded. "The lessons she has learned this year, and will learn next year at these two excellent schools, will help her achieve success in her adult life."