Blind eyes open

New student at SHS doesn’t allow his disability to define him


Brianna Henry

Tello plays the drums during advanced band class. He has had a love for drumming since eighth grade.

Madelyn Knight
Tello has won three national championships in Beep Baseball. Beep Baseball is a modified version of baseball for the blind.

When senior Miguel Tello walks through the halls, he hears everything. He hears the water fountains rumble and students talking with their friends. He uses these things as landmarks to help him get to his destination. Though he can hear all of these things happening in the halls of SHS, he essentially sees nothing.

Tello’s blindness has led to a multitude of hardships, but he continues to see life through curiosity and not let his lack of sight define him. His current challenge is navigating the halls of his new school and pursuing what he came here for.

At the age of 8, Tello was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Lorri Seever, a medical assistant at Massachusetts Eye and Ear at Harvard, told The Journal one in every 80 people is diagnosed, and it is passed through the form of recessive, dominant or mother to son. It is a disease that takes away sight and creates the illusion of “looking through a straw.” There is no cure for it.

Tello started to notice the symptoms of night blindness and clumsiness in first grade, and the disease eventually took away most of his vision. He could never explain it to anyone at school because he had not yet learned English. He was then moved to The Indiana School of the Blind and Visually Impaired, where he learned Braille, how to use a walking stick and specific technology for the blind. That became his “normal.”

“I would be down a lot because most of my friends would be able to see,” Tello said. “I would hang out with them, not (being) able to see, and it was really tough.”

As his life went on, music and sports really helped Tello mentally. Being involved in these activities is what led him to SHS. Tello not only

Brianna Henry
Tello has won many awards in the sports he has played. He says he turns to sports to help him not only physically but also mentally.

lives in the Southport area but was encouraged to come here by the blind school, according to his principal at the blind school, Jay Wilson.

“We want all of our kids to be in their public schools. It is the least restrictive environment,” Wilson said. “I think some of the skill sets that we were able to teach him when he was younger, he was able to transfer over to Southport High School.”

Here at SHS, Tello is able to overcome his disability in a multitude of ways. Having an interest in music throughout his life has led him to be a percussionist in the SHS advanced band class. He has played drums for most of his life and a little bit of clarinet, so he wanted to express himself in a public school environment.

“(Music) helped me through my downtimes,” Tello said.

Band teacher David Copeland is very eager to start working with Tello. He’s never had a visually impaired person in his class, and he says that it will make him think about his teaching methods more.

“He’s very courageous to delve into our world,” Copeland said.

In a band class last Friday, Tello walked in all on his own. Copeland assigned him the symbols, and the fellow percussionists helped him get situated. Tello was hesitant at first, but he smiled when Copeland told him what music he was playing. As he played, he got the hang of the rhythm he was assigned. It was a little confusing for him at first, but in the end, he enjoyed it.

Not only is he involved in music, but he also turns to an abundance of sports for a getaway. He is really invested in Beep Baseball and Goalball.

Beep Baseball is a modified version of baseball for blind people. In Beep Baseball, players wear blindfolds to make their visions equal, and the baseball has a beeping device inside. The baseball is also an oversized softball, so it is easier for them to catch it. Tello has won three national championships in Beep Baseball and loves to wear his championship rings. Tello first started playing at 15 years old, and he has currently been on his team for three years. Goalball is a Paralympic sport that is a mixture of many sports, such as soccer and hockey. Every month, there are tournaments in states around the country. However, since Tello is in high school, he is not able to make most of them. But after he graduates, he plans on going to more and even one this spring break.

To help stay in shape, Tello takes weight lifting at SHS. Clint Frank, the weights coach here at SHS, has had a great impact from Tello. He feels that he has to be more descriptive and overall be a better teacher when Tello is in his class. On the first day, Frank was a little apprehensive about having him in the class, but Frank says Tello immediately put his mind at ease.

“He’s capable of doing anything he puts his mind to, just like anybody else,” Frank said.

Tello has also become acquainted with his lifting partner, senior Kaelyn Hobbs. Although at first Hobbs didn’t see Tello as different, after learning about his blindness, she was worried about him hurting himself and tripping. However, as time went on, she began to realize how capable he really was, and Frank thinks they work well together.

Tello’s routine usually consists of being in the front of the room grabbing dumbbells, which are marked with Braille stickers to identify the weight. Tello used to need the Braille, but now he is accustomed to the weight room. He grabs the weights and stands over near the bench. After he does his reps, Frank then guides him to the rack and sets up his weights with Hobbs. She tells him the weights they need, and they put on the safety collars. He catches on like any other student in the class does.

According to Tello, after high school, he would like to produce music or even b

Brianna Henry
Tello performs a bent-over barbell row in weight class.

e in a band. He also has great aspirations of continuing to be successful in the sports he plays. He hopes this experience at SHS will help him grow to be a more confident, better person for the future. Often at times, Tello tries to move past his disability and hopes to keep that mindset throughout his life.
”Coming to Southport makes me forget,” Tello said.