Greene gives back to education program

Aaron Greene, senior at Chase High School, raises money for Rutherford County School's Exceptional Children's Program with senior project.
Dec. 26, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

FOREST CITY— Since the first semester of classes is over, many high school students are practicing and perfecting their speeches for their senior project presentations in January. The students have picked a variety of different topics and have worked all semester to get those mentor hours and create a product that they can be proud of.

But Aaron Greene, senior at Chase High School, decided to do something a little more personal for his project.

For his senior project, Aaron researched the different types of autism and raised $1,400, which he donated to Rutherford County School's exceptional children's program. The money will be divided between the two county schools that have autism classrooms.

"The main reason that I wanted to do this is because I was in the Exceptional Children's department when I was young and I wanted to give back," Aaron said.

In order to raise the money, Aaron held a spaghetti supper at Crestview Baptist Church in Forest City. Tickets were $10 per person and Scott's on Broadway provided the spaghetti. The church helped with salads and desserts.

He also received several donations from other friends and family.

When Aaron was three, he was identified as having delayed speech.

"He was enrolled in preschool at First United Methodist Church in Rutherfordton. The teacher noticed some differences in him and told us there might be some things going on. He was always off to himself and wouldn't play with the group of children," said Bruce Greene, Aaron's father.

Once he was diagnosed, Aaron qualified for speech and language services. He was moved to the self-contained classroom at the Carver Center before attending Harris Elementary School.

"When Aaron was around six or seven he was reevaluated and qualified in the area of learning disabled. That became his primary category and he continued to receive speech as a related service," said Tom Griffin, exceptional children's program director.

Although Aaron had problems with speech, he excelled in math and science.

"His math teachers learned to give him his paper last because he always finished his math so quickly," said Leslie Greene, Aaron's mother. "His SAT scores were very high for those subjects. In math classes he told the teachers that he could see the numbers in his head."

Aaron tested out of the learning disabled category when he was in the 9th grade, but it still has a soft place in his heart.

"It makes me feel good to be able to give this money to the classrooms. I am glad to give back to the community," Aaron said.

Jennifer Condrey works with autistic children at Pinnacle Elementary School. She says she is very grateful to Aaron for all of the hard work he put into his project.

"I am just really proud of Aaron. He worked so hard and he has an inspirational story to tell. His project is important because he contributed to autism education and he raised awareness as well," Condrey said. "I don't have a set plan for the money yet, but I will most likely use it for some sensory things for the classroom."

Tina Smith, who teaches in the autism classroom at Ellenboro Elementary School says she is also looking forward to finding educational ways to spend the money.

"I am going to do some research and find some new materials to use in the classrooom, I am not sure what. I have never been given this large a sum of money before," Smith said, "I have been given money from other senior projects, but they have always stipulated how the money should be used. I have never been given any that they say I can do whatever I want with as long as it is educational. I am really excited to figure out how I want to use it. I was thinking I might add some materials to my reading program, but I am not 100 percent sure yet."

For the other part of his project, Aaron researched all the different kinds of autism.

"I learned that autism is a bigger topic than I first thought. It is one of the most important things in the world and it is the least funded," Aaron said. "It affects 1 out of 10 children. Boys are diagnosed with autism three out of four times."

In the future, Aaron hoped to go to college and major in chemistry or double major in chemistry and biology.

"He is the youngest of three children. All three of them have exceeded our expectations," Bruce said. "I was unable to go to college, but the first two went and Aaron is going to go. We are so proud of him."