Bryce Commons, Pittsburg High School freshman, is having a blast as junior varsity dragon mascot. On Monday he took part in a PHS junior varsity football game at Hutchinson Field.
The Autism News
By Nikki Patrick | MorningSun
“Most of the mascots have to use shoulder pads to fill out the dragon costume, but not Bryce,” said his mother, Mandy Commons.
Her son has come a long, long way. Bryce Commons has autism, and his parents were told that he would never function above the level of a 4-year-old.
“In fact, I was told to look for a home to put him in because his autism was so severe,” his mother said.
But on May 20, 2010, her son graduated from Pittsburg Community Middle School, and is now doing well at PHS, with assistance from paraeducator Sarah Reese, who also worked with him at PCMS.
His sister, Emily Commons, is a PHS sophomore and varsity cheerleader. The family attended a varsity football game, and Bryce saw the dragon.
“He asked if he could be the dragon,” Mrs. Commons said. “I spoke with the cheer coach, and she was more than willing to work with him.”
“We have different dragons who do varsity games, but we thought it would be good for Bryce to do the junior variety games,” said Diana Oertle, cheer coach. “We let him work ahead of time with the costume to see if he was comfortable with it, and he was. His sister helps him learn the moves.”
Oertle and the dragon’s father, Chad Commons, help him get suited up before the games.
“Bryce’s first game was on Oct. 11 and I think he did a great job,” the coach said. “He does a good job interacting with the crowd, and blows a lot of kisses. There were a lot of little kids at the last game who wanted to hug the dragon, and Bryce did a great job at that.”
When football season is over, there’s always basketball, and it’s possible Bryce may play the mascot there, too.
“Whenever we can use Bryce, we will, definitely,” Oertle said.
“Bryce has found his calling,” Mrs. Commons said. “He told me that when he gets to college, he wants to be the gorilla.”
She is happy that the other students and teachers are accepting and willing to work with her son and make him feel part of the school.
“I read stories all the time about how children with special needs get bullied in high school, and I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I had worrying about it before Bryce started,” Mrs. Commons said. “But after the first week, Bryce was all smiles and I knew he was fine. We are truly blessed to have a such a wonderful school district.”
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