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Charlottesville student 'knew he had to fight.' Now he's graduating as a National Honor Society scholar

Culpeper Star-Exponent - 6/13/2018

Graduating high school is a major event in any young person's life, but it means something more to Julian Smith. The Charlottesville High School senior and National Honor Society scholar graduated Thursday, but his journey to a diploma has been anything but easy.

Born at 25 weeks with cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and multiple intellectual disabilities, Smith had a difficult time growing up. Raised by his grandmother until she could no longer take care of him, Smith would go to live with his aunt Joanna Moore around the time he started high school.

Due to his disabilities and a lack of faith in his abilities from his teachers, Smith was testing at the cognitive level of a second- or third-grader by the time he entered ninth grade, Moore said. The school he went to in Maryland didn't work to enrich or help him, Moore said, but she knew Smith's capabilities and wouldn't let them give up on him.

"Up until that point, everyone just saw the wheelchair, saw the level he cognitively tested at and assumed he couldn't do the work, he couldn't be in the general population classes," she said. "I knew his capabilities and I knew how smart he was, and I knew I had to fight."

Working together, the two studied hard, helping


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