On the popular WB television show, “Everwood,” the high-school student “Bright” goofs off every year until he becomes a senior. Then, he applies himself like he has never done so before. He shows everyone there’s a lot more to his make-up than the jock and girl-crazy guy that everyone knows and loves. As graduation nears, he has only one regret: he wishes he had buckled down and studied during his other school years.
A similar script could have been written for David Dupuis, who graduated from Park View High School Tuesday. The senior shares the same regret. “I wish I had applied myself earlier,” he said in an interview last Friday.
Dupuis, however, has overcome tougher challenges than the made-for-television character. Doctors predicted he would have died of complications from Muscular Dystrophy by now, but he says he has no intention of fulfilling that forecast. He has set his sights on Northern Virginia Community College in the fall and then a transfer to Art Institute of Washington in Arlington. “I want to get the core courses out of the way,” he said.
Dupuis’s confidence comes through like the invincible nature of a teenager. There is no, “I’m planning on becoming a graphics designer.” Instead, he announces, “I’m going to be one.”
DUPUIS, 18, of Sterling, had two graduations this year. First, he participated in C.S. Monroe Technology Center’s ceremony last week, receiving a graphics communication diploma. Tuesday, he rolled his wheelchair up to the stage at the Patriot Center and joined his classmates in the commencement exercises.
Loudoun County students have the opportunity to enroll in Monroe’s classes to prepare for automotive, culinary arts, cosmetology and other careers. Dupuis said he wanted to take culinary arts, but the program was full. Stephanie Church, who was his guidance counselor two years ago, recommended graphic communications. “She knew I liked to work with computers and I liked art,” he recalled. “The first day I went in there, I didn’t even know what it was.”
He has come a long way. He works in the print shop for the county school system during the summers. He was a member of the design and production team for the Park View “Illusions” literary magazine. Dupuis, Tadeh Vartaman and A.J. Trammel did the graphic design work, only to lose it to a computer worm. They spent the last two weeks recreating it on a CD-ROM.
He also does side jobs for his friends and family, making business cards, posters, personalized note pads and stationery.
Dupuis said he will own his own graphics design business some day. He started showing his entrepreneurial spirit in middle school, selling Pokeman cards and Pixi Stix candy. “You could buy a pack, and then sell the shiny cards for $30,” he said. “I’d buy 101 Pixi Stix for a dollar and sell four for a dollar. I made a killing.”
HE WAS in sixth grade when MD progressed to the point he had to start using a wheel chair. “It got worse and worse, and I couldn’t support my weight,” he said.
“I knew it was going to happen sooner or later,” he added, with an air of “It’s no big deal.”
Dupuis was diagnosed when he was 3. “My neck is really tight. When you sit in a certain way, my shoulder blades start to stick out,” he said. “Muscular Dystrophy has so many different forms that they are not sure which kind I have.”
He said he does not let MD slow him down, though. “I feel pretty healthy as long as I can get enough sleep.”
His current guidance counselor, April Marr, said he has been very positive. “He’s dealing with so many things that other students aren’t dealing with, as far as his health issues,” she said. “I’ve never heard him use that as an excuse. It’s just the way life is.”
She said Dupuis struggled academically until his senior year. “This year has been outstanding and he has worked so diligently. I’ve been so proud of him. He is really an inspiration, with all the energy he has for all aspects of his life.”
DUPUIS SAID he decided to apply himself academically this year for financial reasons. “With all of the business opportunities I see in front of me, I kind of straightened out a lot,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of maturing this year. I wanted to get as much as I could out of my last year.”
Park View Principal Anne Brooks said Dupuis persevered once he set his goals. “That’s not easy sometimes, when you have adversity. He took advantage of everything out there.”
Dupuis said he hopes other students will gain from the lesson he has learned. “Don’t procrastinate,” he said. “Whatever you do in high school set the stage for the rest of you life. … If you don’t apply yourself, you won’t reach the potential you could be.”