Scottie O’Bryan and Spencer Schultz
Senior Julian David-Drori is well-known around Jamesville-DeWitt High School as the “Re-enactor Guy.” However, there is much more to him than what is displayed on the battlefield.
David-Drori struggles with nine different disabilities, but was misdiagnosed for most of his childhood. Because of this, David-Drori received improper treatment until second grade. The misdiagnosis “made my my life a living hell,” says David-Drori. People assumed that he was just being lazy, when in reality it was his disabilities holding him back. Now that David-Drori is diagnosed correctly, he receives the appropriate medication and services to help him function at a higher level. At this higher level, David-Drori is able to perform well in classes such as SUPA Writing, SUPA ETS and AP European History.
One of David-Drori’s disabilities is dysgraphia, a deficiency in the ability to write clearly and coherently. “I have poor control over my hands. If I write more than three paragraphs, my hand starts to hurt a lot,” says David-Drori. Dysgraphia has proved to be a struggle for David-Drori in being successful for school, but he has handled it well. “I get extra time to write essays on tests and use an iPad to dictate what I write,” says David-Drori.
David-Drori used his disabilities to his advantage when he made a J-D Engaging in Dialogue talk this past February. Titled “Phantoms I’ve Known,” it was about the many disabilities people don’t recognize. His primary purpose in making the presentation was to spread awareness about lesser known disabilities. “When people think of special needs, they immediately go to autism, Down syndrome, or dyslexia. The fact is, there are so many different disabilities,” says David-Drori. David-Drori gave a first hand account of these widely unknown disabilities for his JED talk. “People don’t know about a lot of these disabilities, so when I tell someone that I have one of those disabilities they often don’t believe me. That can be frustrating,” says David-Drori.
Although he spent about around 30 hours preparing for the speech, David-Drori says he has been getting ready for this JED Talk for his “entire life.” My collective experiences and research have helped me gain the knowledge I needed for the presentation,” says David-Drori.
David-Drori’s speech had a lasting effect on much of his audience. JED Club adviser Courtney Romeiser feels that David-Drori did “a good job of melding his personal experiences with the research he did.” “It was a nice contrast to some of the other speeches we had about political topics. He did a good job of inserting humor into a more serious topic,” says junior Matt O’Connor, who also gave a JED Talk. “The best feeling was that I got some ‘thank you’s’ by people like me (after the JED Talk) who didn’t want to speak out,” says David-Drori.
David-Drori is glad that his JED Talk changed the way many people look at disabilities. “People don’t know what these issues are, and that just causes more problems for people like me. If I can alert people that these disabilities exist, maybe I can help people with special needs in the future,” says David-Drori.
But there is another side of David-Drori that is much more well known among J-DHS students. This is the side that has attracted hundreds of J-DHS students to Lyndon fields each year.
David-Drori began plans to form the Re-enactors Club in the fall of his freshman year. The Re-enactors Club promotes the appreciation of history through the role-playing of historical American battles. The club specializes in battles from the Civil War. “I have always loved history and I wanted to teach people about it in a memorable way,” says David-Drori. “I think (Julian) was hoping to bring history to life and to make kids understand that history is not just something that’s in a textbook,” says current club adviser Lisa Molesso.
However, he faced many challenges in making his dream a reality. “He had to jump through a lot of hoops to make (the club) happen,” says Mrs. Molesso. At a time when the fear of school shootings was on the rise, bringing fake weapons to school didn’t seem like a good idea to the administration. The club also struggled with attracting enough students to join the club; in their first year there were only seven members. “Julian just ignored all the people that didn’t want to be apart of the club and he moved on,” says former club adviser Leo Brown
Despite the uphill battle, David-Drori was determined to make Re-enactors Club a success at J-DHS. “Julian has the ability to keep his eye on the goal and not be deterred by the negatives that come his way. He was able to get past all the negativism that came his way and continue on until he achieved his goal,” says Mr. Brown. Sophomore club member Elliot Turner feels that Julian’s colorful personality is part of the reason the club has been so popular. “Julian is funny, yet can be serious when he needs to be and I think he has a very engaging personality,” says Turner.
In recent years the club has become much more popular, with 36 current members. The club’s year ended with a bang during the J-D Day re-enactment in Lyndon Fields. The event attracted over 250 viewers, 80 more than last year’s re-enactment. “I thought the re-enactment went great. I was lying dead on the ground for most of the time, but I could still hear the cheers from the crowd,” says senior Ben Cohen, a member of the club.
Although David-Drori didn’t start the club until his freshman year, he has been an avid re-enactor outside of school since seventh grade, when his love for history sparked. “I think I like history because it is something I can compare to my problems. I treat every disability I need to overcome like a battle. And if I can win every battle then I’ll win the war,” says David-Drori.
David-Drori will be attending SUNY Geneseo this fall after being accepted by early decision. As one may expect from his interest in re-enactments, David-Drori plans on studying history. While at Geneseo, he hopes to take an internship in Gettysburg through the school where he would be a “live history” re-enactor. David-Drori also wants to major in pre-medicine. “I want to be a special needs psychiatrist. I’ve been through a lot of things and want to use my experiences to help other people like me,” says David-Drori.