Red River Student Heads for Seattle

Naomi Dunavan

The following article appeared, reprinted with permission, in the May 24, 1994 issue of the Grand Forks Herald.

Anthony Arnold has a couple of goals in mind.

The Red River High School sophomore wants a career in computer science. And he's so intrigued by technology, that he one day hopes to design and improve speaking devices to help children talk.

Children like him.

Anthony, the son of John and Dolly Arnold, has cerebral palsy. Doctors believe complications just before his birth caused his hypotonic condition - a lack of muscular tone that left his arms, neck and legs weak and floppy. Cerebral palsy can't be cured, but it doesn't get worse. Symptoms are treated and relieved with surgery and therapy.

Before school starts in the fall, Anthony may very well have picked up a technology tidbit or two for his goal of that better speaking device.

Anthony is one of 20 disabled students from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota selected to take part in the 1994 DO-IT Scholars Program in science, engineering and mathematics. The program, in its second year, is designed to encourage people with disabilities who attend to consider careers in those fields. It runs Aug. 7 - 19 at the University of Washington in Seattle. About 80 students applied.

Last fall, Anthony carried papers back and forth from school for months. His dad found them in the backpack he carries on his electric wheelchair. "I thought it was a student guide for health," Anthony said. That didn't sound interesting. Instead, it was an application for the DO-IT Program. The more Anthony read, the more he wanted to go. He followed all the screening steps and his school records and transcripts were sent off.

Activities during DO-IT will include laboratories in electrical and civil engineering, exercises in plate tectonics, seismology and planetary geology, research in a chemistry lab and a field trip to the Pacific Science Center.

Oh, and a Seattle Mariners game.

After the two weeks, students will take home modems for their computers to gain access to a computer network. Each will have selected a program to work on all year and, through the computer network, can stay in touch with DO-IT staff and mentors via electronic mail.

"He will be in communication with another high school student who was in the program last year, a college student mentor, and a career mentor with similar disabilities," said Sheryl Burgstahler, program director. "They can give him encouragement and answer his questions about science, engineering and math." If Anthony wishes, he can attend again in 1995 and in 1996 as a helper to newcomers. "We also help students get internships and other summer study options," Burgstahler added. The DO-IT program is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It pays for full room and board for the student, and a personal-care attendant.

Don Gitz, a friend from Grand Forks, will be Anthony's attendant. Gitz often takes Anthony to movies, out to eat and shopping. "This will give him an opportunity to find out what's out there in the real world," Gitz said. "It will be a really good experience. Just the experience of going there and not knowing anyone will be good for him." Gitz says Anthony meets people extremely well. "He's a good kid. He's got a lot going for him."


Anthony was 2 when he got his first communication board with his picture, a picture of home, a bathroom and a bus signifying transportation. His second board contained more pictures and symbols with words written under them. When he was 7, Anthony started using a Touch Talker, a vocal output communication device activated by finger pressure. For the past three years, he has used a liberator, which has 10 different voices, a built-in printer and calculator.


Anthony's favorite subjects are math and science, especially "math because it's more thinking by myself," he said. Allen Janes is his informal geometry teacher and Rick Ellis is his paraprofessional aide.

"He's an excellent student," Janes said. "His grades are in the top of his section. He spells out what he wants to his aide, and he's very conscientious in getting his work done. He has a great sense of humor. He types things out that have us rolling on the floors some days. Anthony is very deserving of this chance to go and learn more about math and science."

After Anthony spells out what he wants, Ellis gets to work. "One of my primary jobs is to write for him," Ellis said. "With his liberator, he can communicate just as well as you and I. During test I have to be real careful to write down just what he says."

Ellis says Anthony has his circle of friends at Red River. "I try to step back and give him all the time and space he needs to socialize."

At home, Anthony enjoys playing SegaGenesis with his brother, John Ryan, 12. Anthony has a collection of 300 caps. And he loves to listen to golden oldies music on KSNR Radio.

He hasn't exactly started packing for Seattle, but Anthony is eager. "I am going because I enjoy machines, technology and computers. I think it will be what I need because "96 will come fast and I've seen other kids who never went on to college."