The next step for Cody Fingers

By Jordan Bryson

codypage2Homecoming king, video gamer, guitar player, Elvis impersonator. Just a few things to identify senior Cody Fingers who has spent his entire educational life in FHSD.

“This has been the most phenomenal year for him, and it’s really a lot to do with the class of 2013,” his mother and English teacher Diane Fingers said. “He’s been with some of these kids for 13 years, and this school has made his senior year definitely memorable.”

When Diane reflects on Cody’s senior year, the first thing that comes to mind is 2012 Homecoming king. When Cody thinks of being crowned Homecoming king, a wide smile spreads across his face.

“I don’t think the kids at FHN know what they did,” Diane said. “When they announced Cody’s name, I dropped my camera. I was shocked– ecstatic, but shocked.”

At each Homecoming, it’s common to see Cody have his own break out when Diane requests an Elvis song for him. When he begins to dance, students soon circle around him. At this year’s Prom on April 20, though, senior Kenny Griffin, a friend of Cody’s since their fourth grade class at Henderson Elementary School together, took the charge of requesting two Elvis songs for Cody.

“I’ve known him for a long time, and I know that he likes Elvis,” Griffin said. “Plus it was his birthday. I just like to watch him dance, and I know it makes him feel good too.”

Cody’s free time is filled with playing video games like Call of Duty or Crash Bandicoot and playing his guitar. Sometimes he’s strumming and singing Elvis at the top of his lungs, other times it’s with his four-year-old niece, Emma, playing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” their favorite song to play on their guitars together.

“He can’t carry a tune, but he’s got his heart in it,” Diane said. “And [Emma] just idolizes him. Sometimes he looks out for her, sometimes she looks out for him.”

What is also routine for Cody is expressing his love for Elvis Presley whether it be through singing, playing guitar, dancing, collecting Elvis movies or downloading music to his MP3 player.

Beth Roberts, a special education teacher who has been with Cody all four years, says when Cody graduates with his class, she’ll miss his charm and compassion he has toward his peers. Thinking about Cody, she recalls whenever a freshman classmate of his is ever feeling down, Cody never fails to sing “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley to her.

“He’s a one of a kind kid,” Beth said. “I’m sad to see him go, but I know he’s ready.”

During an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting for Cody earlier this year, they discussed how he is able to stay at FHN until he is 21. However, according to Diane, Cody knows he’s a senior and is aware seniors graduate.

The Fingers family talked to a caseworker who is now trying to receive state funding for Cody to attend Blank Canvas Studios, an art-based day program in St. Charles created by RHD-Missouri, a program for those with developmental disabilities. As of press time, their proposal is being evaluated at the state level, and they don’t know when they’ll find out if they qualify. If they receive funding, it will begin in July to support the $35,000-$40,000 cost of RHD. If they do not receive the funding, other funding and programs are being explored.

“I think it would be really great if he could get into that,” Roberts said. “They’re really big into the arts and music there, and that would be perfect for him.”

Cody will sit and graduate with the class of 2013 on June 1, and he will also attend the All-Knighter later that night. After high school, Cody says he wants to work, play guitar and start riding horses again as he used to at Therapeutic Horsemanship with his horse Pudding from 2008-11.

“It’s been overwhelming trying to figure out what he’s going to do next,” Diane said, “but when we had his IEP meeting earlier this year, he was adamant, ‘I’m done.’”