A Very Special Burke County Graduation - New York News

A Very Special Burke County Graduation

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CONNELLY SPRINGS, NC -

Making that final walk across the stage is the thing all seniors look forward to. That’s particularly true for East Burke High School student Gloria Muentener.

“It means I’ve accomplished everything I need to these last four years,” Gloria said. “I kept my grades up. I feel like more proud of myself than ever before.”

Like many, getting to this moment is a major accomplishment for Gloria.

“She does have a learning disability,” said Angela Muentener, Gloria’s mother. “But it doesn’t affect her emotionally or physically. I’m just so proud of her. The teachers did an excellent job with my daughter. They really did, especially Mrs. Bollinger.”

For the last four years, Katie Bollinger has served as a mentor and friend to Gloria. She is East Burke High School’s exceptional children's teacher as well as the head women’s basketball coach.

“When she came into school, we had a meeting, and some of her interests were basketball,” said Bollinger. “She needed some help socially. So, I was able to provide that outlet and ask her to be a part of our team as a manager.”

Gloria served as the team’s manager for her first three years of high school and then she was made a full team member this season.

“Since, you know, it was our last year together we wanted her to be able to play with us this year and be a part of the team,” said Bailey Gragg, Gloria’s teammate. “So, she was able to dress out. She was our biggest fan on the bench for the first three years, and her pride just to wear the jersey made us remember why we should love the game as well.”

Coach Bollinger commented, “[The team members] absolutely fell in love her personality and her will and determination and gut; and the things that she was able to do out on the court inspired them.”

As Gloria walks across the stage, there will be many people in the audience who helped her achieve this goal. However, one person is likely to be on her mind.

“My coach has helped me a lot, too,” Gloria said. “She’s also been my teacher for all four years, too. So, I’m really thankful for all the stuff she’s done for me, and I’ve accomplished so much since I’ve been in her class and her coach me in basketball. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never got this far.”

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