Beloved by student body, this senior is ‘truly the queen’ at her high school

Veterans High senior gets homecoming surprise

Veterans High School senior Hannah Shepherd, a special needs student, was crowned homecoming queen last week.
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Veterans High School senior Hannah Shepherd, a special needs student, was crowned homecoming queen last week.

Hannah Shepherd knows practically everyone at Veterans High School, and she has made sure they all know her too.

The student body gave her the nickname “H-Dog,” and now they can call her one other thing: queen.

The senior, with high-functioning autism, was crowned homecoming queen last week. She wants to wear her crown everywhere, her mother, Lynette Shepherd, said, but she’ll save it for special occasions.

“I was honored,” Hannah said. “When I got that crown, I was shocked. I was nervous. I have to represent the class of 2018, my class.”

Shepherd said her daughter has flourished at Veterans High, and she really opened up when her sister Kaitlyn, now a sophomore, started at the school. She has two other sisters, 13-year-old Abigail and 8-year-old Bethany. Her father, David Shepherd, teaches social studies at Veterans.

Hannah is a spunky, exciting and humble young lady, principal Chris Brown said. She’s shown poise and grace in the face of every obstacle she’s encountered.

“I couldn’t think of a better representative for the class of 2018 than her,” he said. “The school has been great for Hannah, but Hannah has been great for our school as well. I’m happy for the class of 2018, because they got it right. There are a lot of amazing students in our school, but to me, Hannah is truly the queen.”

The 18-year-old is the manager of the school’s volleyball team and a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Partner’s Club. She is also involved in youth group at her church, Second Baptist, and plays baseball in the Challenger League for Warner Robins American Little League. She enjoys watching cooking shows and wants to be a chef one day.

“She looks at her yearbook every day, so she knows just about every student’s name in the whole entire school,” her mother said. “Hannah wants to know everybody, and she doesn’t let them go until they know her back. She knows somebody everywhere we go.”

Her peers have supported her at ballgames and other activities. A “whole entourage” cheered for Hannah when she was named winner of the 2016 Miss Houston County Queen of Summer pageant.

Hannah’s being named homecoming queen “is a very big testimony to the students here at Veterans,” Shepherd said. “It says a lot about their heart for other people. They’ve really loved on Hannah, not just during this homecoming season. They’ve loved on Hannah during her whole four years here.”

Because she’s a special needs student, Hannah could have stayed in the school system until she was 21 years old. But this seemed to be the fitting time for her to finish up.

“She came along with such a great group of students,” Shepherd said. “Hannah has fit in so well with them that we just felt like it was natural for her to graduate with this group of students.

“It’s been a great four years, but this year has definitely been her best year.”

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea