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School, helping others a balancing act
by Garrett Valenzuela
Nov 19, 2012 | 2212 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Denn
Chris Denn
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SPARKS — Every year during the fall and winter holiday seasons, Chris Denn and his mother pay several visits to parents and families living with mental disabilities or mentally disabled children. They deliver presents and offer their company during the seasons of giving, and Denn remembers very well the Christmas that topped them all.

After walking inside the home of a single mother, Denn was shocked to find a single chair and table in the small home accompanied by a “two-foot tall Christmas tree.” Denn said he was forever influenced by what he saw.

“I think about how at any time or place that could be my family and I would want people to help me in that situation,” Denn said. “I want to help people do the best they can in their lives and reach their potential while doing the same for my family. I don’t want it to be one side or the other.”

Denn is in his third year at Reed High School and working diligently toward his Honors diploma by maintaining three Advanced Placement classes and being enrolled in the National Honor Society. Denn is also a member of the Reed football team as a kicker and backup quarterback.

Denn said he has been working with his mother aiding the mentally disabled since he about 6 years old, which is about the same time he started playing football. He said currently balancing the stress of his academics and athletics keeps him quite busy.

“There is a lot of calling up friends asking for help and a lot of midnight calls asking about what is due tomorrow or making sure I have worked through a problem right,” he said. “There is a lot of in school work and cramming right before classes start. When I am not in school my mom makes me study a lot too, so I do a lot of that with her.”

Denn said his mother has been a major reason for his success thus far in school, citing her as a vital motivator when it comes to his studies.

“She has been great about keeping me on top of my studies and putting rules in place so that if I don’t meet what she wants, I lose what I want,” he said.

Denn said he hopes his work in the classroom combined with his tenure in the National Honor Society will help propel him to college with several scholarships. He said though he has not made a definite decision about his future career path. Law enforcement would make a great fit.

“Both my grandfathers served in the military and my dad is a police officer so it really fits,” he said.

Denn said he is most looking forward to his senior year of football and becoming the starting quarterback. He hopes to instill an attitude, on the field and in the school, that will help the team continue the success of this year’s season.

“We want to take league three years in a row and making it to state. That’s all a bunch of us juniors talk about, and we want to be there for state two times in a row or for the first time,” he said. “I want there to be not a lot of cockiness, just confidence in our abilities. I want people to be out there playing for everybody and not just be there to say ‘I am a Raider.’ ”
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