FLORENCE — Rogers High School eighth-grader Hayden Hulsey keeps a cool head these days as he competes in his school system's Scholars Bowl.
For the first time since he's been competing, he can "buzz-in" the answers to questions.
Hulsey has been in a wheelchair since he was in the first grade — the result of a car wreck whereby his neck was broken.
During Wednesday's Scholars Bowl competition he showcased the device, a large button mounted beside his head with an electrical connection to a buzzer that allows him to use his chin to signal that he knows the answer.
And, he knows his share of the answers.
"Before I got this system I just had to say, "me" when I knew the answer but that wasn't ideal because then the (moderators) had to decide if I beat the other kids' buzzers," he said. "Now, I'm just right there buzzing-in with them."
The modification came about courtesy of two other students, neither of whom actually knew Hulsey.
Garret Gean, a senior at Brooks High School, and Nicholas Kavich, a junior at Waterloo, joined forces to create the device.
Both take classes at Allen Thornton Career Technical Center — Gean in the electrical program and Kavich in industrial systems.
"We just revamped the original buzzer to where his switch worked with it when he touches it with his head," Gean said. "I'm just glad he has a (mechanism) in place now like everyone else."
Kavich said it's a good feeling to be able to help a fellow student.
"It wasn't a difficult thing to do, but it made a big difference for him."
Hulsey said he's grateful for their help, adding" "I really can't thank them enough for the difference this has made."
With 14 teams participating from throughout Lauderdale County on Wednesday, Hulsey admitted the pressure was high.
"The pressure is different though when all you have to worry about is being prepared and knowing the answers, without also having to worry that your voice isn't beating a buzzer," he said.
Rogers team sponsor Jamison Hines said Hulsey is an inspiration.
"He keeps a positive attitude always," Hines said. "He's not one to quit and is a team player."
As for the math component of the competition, Hulsey on Wednesday was assisted by his former elementary school teacher, Britney Underwood.
Hulsey would tell her what to write as he did his ciphering.
Admittedly not the biggest fan of math, although he's "pretty good at it," Hulsey said he doesn't get stressed out about those questions which are nearly impossible to figure in your head.
"We haven't quite figured out how I can do the math questions alone since I can't write, but I sort of skip over the math anyway," he said.
During the competition, Hulsey perks up when the questions turn to history, figuring his chances of getting those right are better than average because it's his favorite subject.
"It doesn't faze me to miss a math question but man, I hate to miss the history ones," he said.
He considers the Scholars Bowl, particularly the history portion, to be good training ground.
"I want to teach history for a caree,r so this is pretty good experience."
Support local journalism reporting on your community
* New Subscribers Only
* Digital Subscription Only
After the initial selected subscription period your subscription rate will auto renew at $12.00 per month.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.