By Mike Bush

O'Fallon, MO (KSDK) - Sometimes the best teacher can be a student.

Bailey Baucum, 16, is a junior at Fort Zumwalt West High School in O'Fallon, Missouri.

"This has been my most challenging year so far," she said.

Her favorite subject is English, but her passion is dance.

"That's what I do after school, that's what I do whenever I wake up," she explained.

But two years ago, after undergoing surgery for scoliosis, her dancing shoes stayed in the closet for months.

"I had this feeling of what it's like to not be able to do anything or not be allowed to or being told no you can't," said Baucum.

That's when she choreographed an idea.

These are the Fort Zumwalt West STARS. A dance team started by Bailey with something special. Special needs like Autism and Down Syndrome.

"Our kids with special needs don't have the opportunity to have the typical high school experience," said special education teacher Colleen Mattie. "They go to school and they go home."

Every member of the team has a buddy. Dancers all recruited by Bailey. Their most impressive routine? Inclusion.

"I like performing," said 15-year-old Michael Saska, who says he doesn't get nervous.

They practice, after school twice a week. It all leads up to a big performance.

Recently, they took the field in front of the whole school at this year's homecoming pep rally.

The moves may have looked a little off the mark but to those who were there they were right on the money.

Not far from the kids cheers were parent's tears.

"Coming from a perspective that this child would never walk or talk, it's huge," says Matthew's mom, Le Ann Saska.

Helping students with disabilities get off the sidelines.

"It makes me so happy to know that they're feeling the same thing that I get to feel whenever I'm on the field with my team, "exclaimed Baucum.

One young dancer giving everyone a reason to cheer.

Read or Share this story: