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West Hall senior finds purpose in encouraging students with disabilities
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West Hall's Rachael DeVall - photo by Scott Rogers

When Rachael DeVall, senior at West Hall High School, was named the Georgia 2020 Unified Partner of the Year at the state Special Olympics, she was speechless.

She tried to laugh to cover up her tears, but DeVall said she couldn’t help but swell with emotion.

For seven years, she has volunteered with the Special Olympics Georgia, and as a unified partner, she played sports alongside dozens of kids and teenagers with special needs.

“It was a huge honor that I will never forget,” she said. 

DeVall’s passion for helping those with disabilities sparked as early as elementary school. She grew up with two cousins who have special needs and started helping with the local Special Olympics.

Class of 2020

The Times puts together this special senior recognition each year, highlighting a few standout stories from our local seniors, but this year we’ve added graduation lists from our local schools in an effort to honor as many graduates as we can. We hope you’re inspired by these stories and join us in celebrating the class of 2020. You can view these stories online as well as upcoming photo coverage of this year's graduation ceremonies.

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Rachael DeVall, right, a senior at West Hall High School, encourages one of her teammates while volunteering at the Georgia Special Olympics in May 2019. Photo courtesy Rachael DeVall

During December of her senior year, DeVall worked with another student to found and raise $1,500 for Hall County Schools’ first Winter Ball. All of the middle and high school special education students throughout the district were invited.

“When you go to state games, there are opening ceremonies, and they dance afterward,” DeVall said. “There’s nothing like that for the county. We wanted something that would bring the students in our county together.”

Over 300 students arrived on buses during the school day to dance, do activities and just hang out. DeVall said the Winter Ball offered a chance for the kids and teenagers to improve their social skills and have fun around a large group of peers.

To thank the students for their participation, DeVall made sure each class took away a basket full of goodies.

“A lot of these kids are usually super shy and don’t interact much with others,” she said. “It was pretty cool seeing everyone together.”

Although DeVall volunteers with those who have special needs on a regular basis, she said they help her as much as she helps them.

She has built strong friendships with two special education students from her school, and has even gotten to cheer with both of them at West Hall High. They’re not the sort of friends who only see each other at school, they meet up afterward to grab dinner or spend time at their homes.

“Being around them just brings the good out in you,” DeVall said. “You want to be someone they can look up to. They’re always happy and smiling, and it makes you want to be always happy and smiling. I don’t know if they realize that, but they definitely have impacted me.”

When DeVall is not spending time with special education students, she’s cheerleading or volunteer coaching West Hall Youth Cheer.

She started cheerleading in the third grade and during high school served on both the varsity cheer and competition team.

Next school year she will take over as the director for the West Hall Youth Cheer and attend Brenau University under a competition cheer scholarship. 

She plans to study psychology to pursue her dream of becoming a support coordinator for families who have children with disabilities. 

“I want others to know that they’re no different than you and I,” DeVall said. “Just because they have a disability doesn’t mean you need to treat them differently. That’s why I put so much effort in trying to be there for them.”

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West Hall's Rachael DeVall. - photo by Scott Rogers

West Hall High School graduating seniors

A tentative list provided by Hall County Schools

Pratham Adajania

Jasmine Adame

Madison Adams

Daniel Alba

Christian Aldaco

Juan Aldaco

Ana Aldaco Otero

Maricrus Aleman

Zachary Allbright

Alexandra Almaraz-Romero

Marilyn Alvarez

Melena Appling

Bryan Aramburo

Alexis Arroyo Garcia

Melanie Arteaga

Julie Arzate

Jireh Asumah

Lola Atwell

Yamilette Avila

Eyby Aviles

Samaria Badger

Noah Bannister

Azucena Bautista

Joshua Bazzetta

Dawson Beardshaw

Eden Beardshaw

Ignacio Becerra

Erika Benitez

Jeremy Berger

Avery Bernadac

Mikayla Blackwell

Jannet Bonilla

Jeslin Bonilla-Ramirez

Alexis Bowen

Rachel Brown

Samantha Brown

Makenna Bryan

Nathan Buchanan

Caitlyn Bulloch

Sarah Burchfield

Obed Bustos-Abonza

Alyssa Cain

Andrew Calderon

Ximmenna Carcamo

Brian Carden

Charlize Carlisle

Luis Carlos

Mariela Cervantes

Rachel Chacon Castaneda

Brankyla Chatman

Brittany Colee

Jacob Coleman

Caden Collins

Matthew Craven

Curtis Crawford

Flor Cruz

Jesus Cruz

Noemi Cruz

Bryan Cruz-Solorzano

Denny Cuevas

Cristian Davila

Jayline Davila-Serrano

Aaron Davis

Nataly Delgado

Danielle Derico

Rachael DeVall

Sebastian Edwards

John England

Mckinzey English

Jesus Espinoza

Shaun Estrich

Yannis Estrich

Melissa Felix

Jake Fernandez

Rah’Daicia Finks

Bryson Fitts

Evelin Flores Ortiz

Ashlyn Floyd

Kinsey Foster

Caleb Franklin

Paulouis Fuchs

Jonathan Gallaga

Kassandra Galvan

Gabriela Galvez

Lesly Gama

Elizabeth Gantt

Andy Garcia

Ashley Garcia

Edgar Garcia

Jacob Gault

Jon Giron

Noemi Godinez

Gisselle Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez

Ricardo Gonzalez

Greyson Gotts

Riley Grace

Eduardo Guadarrama-Reyes

Jamilet Gutierrez-Cesilio

Daniel Guzman

Dylan Hanes

Gavin Hanville

Sean Hatcher

Trinity Haynes

Jessica Hazelrig

Aaron Hernandez

Adrian Hernandez

Alexis Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

Limbeth Hernandez

Nancy Hernandez

Tania Hernandez Bedolla

Ashley Hernandez Iraheta

Karim Herrera

Andres Herrera-Townsend

Quincy Holcomb

Jakob Hoskeer

Monia Hossain

Sydney Hunt

Katia Hunter

Christopher Hussey

Andrew Huth

John-Luke Iodice

Aaron Jackson

Aaliyah James

Destiny Johnson

India Johnson

Geu Ho Jung

Cassidy Klekot

Canaan Koger

Ryan Kuhs

Mayly Lao

Zachary Lingle

Paloma Loera

Karina Lopez

Nicholas Lopez

Orlando Lopez

Kyra Lynch

Keishunn Marshall

Zachary Martin

Daniel Martinez

Daniela Martinez

Angelica Mata

Dalnick Matos Gomez

Katrina Mauldin

Gabrielle Mauro

Rosario Mayo Lopez

Andrew McCain

Elizabeth McGrew

Devin Meeks

Elizabeth Mejia-Marban

Krystal Miller

Avery Milligan

Taylor Millsap

Eric Miranda

Rodney Miron-Dorantes

Luis Molina

Grace Monson

Juan Montenegro Zamora

Erick Morales

Silus Morris

Elian Mosqueda

Daniel Moya

Sonny Neal

Thien Ngo

Mariah Nunez

Emma O’Neal

Jesus Ochoa-Zavala

Alejandra Olguin-Perez

Alondra Olguin-Perez

Logan Ormerod

John Ososkalo

Steven Ososkalo

William Page III

Slater Parker

Gaylon Passmore

Joseph Patten

Cortasia Pegues

Emmanuel Perdomo

Cristal Perez

Jonathan Perez

Bailey Pike

Kathryn Pittman

Dillon Pollard

Austin Pope

Evelyn Portillo

Isaiah Prather

Jade Price

Brooklyn Puckett

Victor Pulido

Yaretzy Quezada

Dianna Quintero

Amy Ramirez

Estefany Ramirez

Lizeth Ramirez

Ali Ranjha

Cali Reed

Fatima Reyes

Trinatee Richardson

Angel Rico

Solomon Riley

Angela Rivera

Brayan Rivera

Jonathan Rivett

Luz Robles

Alexander Rodriguez

Alma Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez

Eric Rogers

Ulises Romero

Wendy Romero

Jose Rubio

Linda Ruelas

Jonathan Ruiz

Heather Sablock

Hunter Samples

Cesar Sanchez Jr.

Juan Sanchez Jr.

Justin Scroggs

Jeffrey Serrato

Gabriel Shideler

Cadie Shirley

Kaylee Smallwood

Anthony Smith

Haley Smith

Leo Smith

Elizabeth Soriano

Christopher Sosebee

Arturo Soto Jr.

Carlos Soto

Kenneth Soto-Jaimes

Destiny Stainback

Tyler Stauffer

Anna Summerford

Jackson Swafford

William Sykes

Victoria Teeples

Thomas Tran

Jaden Turk

Mauricio Urquiza

Esmeralda Valle

Kimberly Valle

Gisselle Vargas

Julian Vazquez

Jesus Vazquez-Fonseca

Isaac Velazquez

Moses Villatoro

Nohemi Villatoro

Dylan Voyles

Mackenzie Wagner

Kaitlynn Walker

Bailey Weaver

Aashyah White

Joshua White

Kristen Whitmire

Hunter Wilkey

William Willis

Kinsey Wilson

Zoey Wilson

Emily Wood

Jesse Wylie

Charlotte Yarrington

Jacob Young

Alexis Zagwyn

Emily Zhu

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