Graduation 2014

Vanden senior rises above reading disability

By From page GRA5 | June 08, 2014

FAIRFIELD — In order to graduate this year, Elisha Blue had to work harder than most students. The Vanden senior, with a knack for engineering, learned he had a reading disability when he was a freshman in high school.

“It takes me just a little longer than everybody else to take in anything that’s read and process it and re-evaluate it in my mind . . . ,” he said.

Faced with more reading assignments than ever before, Blue had to spend extra time studying in order to succeed. Sophomore year was particularly difficult because Blue decided to take three honors classes, which came with more homework.

“It was just a struggle to complete those assignments and on time,” he said. “It was a lot of late nights trying to stay up – and paying attention during class during the daytime after staying up at night until two in the morning . . . trying to complete my homework.”

Things changed by Blue’s junior year, after he received Section 504 accommodations, which gave him extra time to complete assignments and quizzes.

“It eased up a lot of things,” he said. “. . . It just helped me be able to complete those assignments and test a little bit better for myself and help me feel better about myself so I could actually complete something on time and get a good score on it.”

But school wasn’t all about academics for Blue. The 18-year-old was a member of the robotics team – the RoboVikes – which won the world championships last year. He also played tenor saxophone with the marching band, an activity he wanted to continue throughout high school despite his challenges.

“I overcame the slowness with hard work, and that’s what I learned in marching band – to learn how to take those challenges and focus on something I could do really well,” he said.

Blue said the reading disability actually gives him an analytical advantage because he can see small details that others might miss.

“When I study something, I see a lot of pictures . . . like a photographic memory . . . and I would say that’s a special thing that I have,” he said.

Blue – who was born on Travis Air Force Base – plans to study nuclear engineering at a major university. He plans to attend Solano Community College for two years before possibly transferring to another school in California.

Robotics teacher Doug Green said Blue is an exceptional student who would make a good engineer.

“He has an absolute gift for design and engineering,” he said. “He can visualize how things should go together, how systems should work. He’ll definetely be a successful engineer some day.”

Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne joined the Daily Republic in September 2009. She earned her journalism degree at the University of Florida in 2005 and has worked at newspapers in Fort Pierce, Fla.; Las Cruces, N.M.; and El Paso, Texas.

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