Shooting victim returns to school

April 6, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Ondelee Perteet was struck by a bullet just days before the start of classes last fall.

Perteet's determination to not let his injury slow him down has put him on track to becoming an honor student in his freshman year.

One young man has waited months for this day to come. And others are celebrating with him.

Ondolee Perteet attended his first day of classes at Orr High School Tuesday. He was to have started as an incoming freshman here last fall, but less than a week before the start of school, Ondelee's life was changed by a bullet that left him a quadriplegic.

"It's a blessing cause you know, I made it. My first day. It took seven months, but I'm back," said Ondelee.

Ondelee is back among his peers, and in a place other than home and rehab sessions.

First stop was Mr Hendrickson's algebra class.

It's not that Ondelee is starting over. In the months that he's been at home attempting to adjust to a different life Ondelee has met for an hour a day with his home-bound teacher, Robert Nobile. And for a teacher who cares deeply, it's enormously rewarding to have a student who's mightily determined in spite of obstacles.

"Very excited about how he's taken to learning. He is not sitting back and saying woe is me. He's really working on it. And he's an honor roll student too. Yeah, five Bs and two As," said Nobile.

There's a lot to work to be done, of course, but that's a challenge that this young man, now wise beyond his years, understands.

"He wants to learn. 'I don't want to be an idiot. I want to learn something, not just be pushed through because of his condition.' So this is an emotional day for us," said Detreena Perteet, Ondelee's mom.

Ondelee will have a teaching assistant assigned to him when he's in school. That person - as Robert Nobile did during Ondelee's homebound schooling - will assist with Ondelee's academic needs as well as all those things he cannot now do on his own.

All of this is not meant to suggest that everything's wonderful for Ondelee. It's not. Rehab is very difficult, and he's now feeling considerable pain on his right side where he has little movement. That may be good and bad. But to see friends again, including girls, he says, is a good thing.

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