Nice guys do finish first. Casey Gore is living proof of just that.
“He’s a nice guy” is a phrase most men, and especially teens revile. Not so Casey Gore. In fact, the Sulphur Bluff junior embraces it, donning the label like a crown or badge of honor.
When asked how he wants to be remembered by classmates, school staff and community members 10, 20, 30 or more years down the road, Gore said it’s not his extracurricular achievements or scholastic aptitude — which are many (more than 3 pages in length to be exact) — but for being “a nice person” he hopes to be remembered.
“I hope they remember me as a nice person, someone open-minded, who would do anything for anyone. I want to be remembered as a good person who represented a good, positive influence and helped a lot of people,” Gore said.
And he says, he knows exactly who he is and so does everyone around him.
“I’m an open book,” he laughs. “I’m big about being who you are. I try to be happy and not change anybody, open-minded. Be who you are. Treat others how you want people to treat you. If people talk bad about others, I shy away from that. I try to be positive.”
If Rachel Scott had a male counterpart in today’s world, it’d be Gore.
Gore’s laughing smile and enthusiasm are infectious, labeling him a “nice guy” right away. His determination that everyone be included and all be treated nicely affirm it.
Like Rachel Scott, if he notices another student sitting alone, he will go over and drag them back to the table where he and his friends are sitting. The lunch table gets awfully crowded sometimes because it’s full of people.
“I want to help everyone. No one should be left out. We sit close,” said Gore, indicating the chairs at their lunch table are often pressed very closely together to accomodate all of the students he drags over so no one is left out or alone, unless they specifically choose to be. He also makes a concerted effort not to judge others, to be as open-minded as possible.
His curiosity, dedication to his current project — whatever that may be, as his interests are varied and many — have resulted in many successes and a 4.672 grade point average.
“I take it one giant toe at at time. I’m good at prioritizing. I do a lot of stuff. One day I practice, then I do it. I complete one thing, then move on to the other,” noted Gore, who says he believes in giving “my best effort.”
“I enjoy it all. I happen to like different programs. FFA is in the fall, FCCLA in the spring, Beta in January and winter. I push all of it, but I’m determined to do it. Give it your best effort. If I do it, I do it correctly. If I do it, I do it all the way. My thing is ‘go big or go home.’”
Gore has served in various leadership capacities and earned recognition in competitive events with Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Future Farmers of America, Beta Club, UIL and his class.
With Beta Club, he served as vice president. He’s been a state competitor on the character skit team and banner team for the last three years. The banner team finished third at state all three years, and the characters skit team won the state championship this year. He’s helped with the Beta Toys for Tots, Pennies for Patients of Ronald McDonald House & Scottish Rite Hospital, blood drives and Coke tab drives for cystic fibrosis; participated in Adopt A Highway in Hopkins County; and served as chairman of the Coats & Shoes for Kids three years. He also was involved in the Anti-Bullying Program this year. he’s served as vice president of the local chapter.
In UIL, he’s been a regional qualifier the past two years in prose interpretation, earning first at district and fifth at region this year, and second at district last year. He was also part of the speech team which earned second place honors last year. In One-Act Play, he was named Best Act at both zone and district competitions this year, and last year received honorable mention All Star Cast at zone and All Star Cast at district.
In Future Farmers of America, in Greenhand creed speaking, he received third at district, first at region and sixth out of 612 at state his freshman year. He moved up to senior creed speaking his sophomore year, earning first at the Texas A&M University-Commerce Invitational meet, second at district and region, and sixth out of 684 at state. He also earned reserve grand champion best of breed and best of colors, and third place champ best of breed in poultry at the Fort Worth Stock Show in Fort Worth in 2012. This year, he won first in district and third in region in senior creed speaking, was grand champion senior public speaker at the State Fair of Texas and senior public speaker at the Houston Livestock Show. During both his freshman and sophomore years, he also was on the parliamentary procedure team. He earned his Greenhand degree and served as freshman class advisor as a ninth grader, and chapter advisor as a sophomore.
“I love speaking. I started in UIL storytelling in second or third grade, where they tell you a story and you tell it back to them,” Gore said, adding that he gradually progressed into other UIL speaking events, memorizing long sections of speeches, poems and texts, which were useful in OAP and FFA creed speaking. “I do funky, cool, fun. One person did a piece about cancer. I stick to funny. My speech was funny. In FCCLA, I had to give a 5-minute speech for my project. I use funny blurbs.”
In FCCLA, he served as vice president of peer involvement last year and president this year. He received the freshman member award and last year the FCCLA Outstanding Member Award. For the last three years, Gore has chaired the FCCLA Fighting Breast Cancer Program, Christmas for the Elderly and Read Across the Bluff; served as coordinator of Teens in the Driver’s Seat, and helped with CANHelp Canned Food Drive and SBISD pre-kindergarten round up. He was on the parliamentary procedure team where he won honors at region and qualified for state his freshman and sophomore years, ranking 7th last year at state. This year, he won first place in fashion construction at the region and state levels, which qualifies him to compete at the national convention.
He’d never made a dress before, but figured since “I really like to sew,” he’d give it a go. He did lots of research, had even been prom dress shopping with his “little sister” — Skylar who lives next door, but whom he’s grown up with and considers his “sister.” He noted there are some “weird dresses” out there. So, he looked at dresses, found one like he wanted and went to work.
Gore spent a total of 37 hours working on the dress, a purple and black high-low dress a small top and flowing gown designed to catch the light and sparkle when the wearer walks. He hand-stitched 90 crystals onto the bodice in a custom-designed pattern. He added a black velvet hooded cape with purple lining; he chose velvet as a precaution against rain, so the water would run off the fabric instead of soaking through and ruining it and the gown. He also sewed pockets discretely under the cape so that small items could be stored within it and the wearer wouldn’t have to worry about stowing a purse. The zipper on the dress he hand-stitched and put in seven times, because he’s a perfectionist and wanted to make sure it was right. He even had to give a 5-minute speech about the project, including the eight skills used in its creation, then answer judges’ questions. He got a perfect score at region, went on to capture first at state and has qualified for nationals with the dress and cape that he’s told would retail at about $600.
Gore won’t be going to nationals, however. He was notified earlier this month he is one of only 14 youths selected for the 2013 Youth For Understanding FCCLA/Kikkoman Japanese Exchange Program over the summer. The program comes with a $9,000 scholarship which covers all costs for him to spend six-weeks this summer with a family in Japan. He has to be in California for three-days of orientation for the exchange program June 9, then it’s off to Japan. FCCLA conference competitions will take place during the exchange program. He reasonsed that he’ll have another opportunity next year to compete in FCCLA competitions, but the exchange program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he couldn’t refuse.
He’s got lots of things yet to do to prepare for the program. He still has to get all of the required immunizations, his passport, learning more about the culture and language so he’s as prepared as possible to be a good visitor. The last time he left the country was to go into Mexico, and at that time, he didn’t have to have a passport. He doesn’t speak any Japanese, but he’s not worried. His research tells him most Japanese families speak English, are usually fluent in it.
“I’m going to be immersed in the culture. I’m going to be positive about it,” Gore said.
Instead of fretting over things outside his comfort zone, like say a different culture, he chooses to embrace them — see it as an opportunity to try something new.
The only blip on the horizon is the 19 hour flight — but he can even find a positive in that. There’s a layover in Hawaii. And, he starts the trip at Berkeley, which will afford him the opportunity to see a family friend who lives in San Francisco.
It’ll be a little hard to be away from his mom, who is also his best friend, more so for her than him. It’s just been Casey and his mom, Leah Gore, for a long time — although they consider friends and community members their “family.” But, he’s promised to Skype, if service is available, to keep in touch. And, it’ll be a good prelude to next summer, when he begins packing up and readying for college.
Gore serves on the Student Health Advisory Committee and has served as attorney and master juror for Hopkins County Teen Court since 2010. Since 2009, he has served as songleader and been on the gardening/landscaping team at North Hopkins Church of Christ, and worked weekly as a farm assistant at Vaden Richey farms. From 2009-2011, he volunteered weekly as a recreational aid at Hopkins House Assisted Living, helping with things like calling bingo — making sure everyone got a chance to win.
He’s also taking or has taken Spanish III, physics, principles of education class through which he serves as a student assistant in the first grade classroom and college American history 101— all college and honors courses. He had the highest overall grade point average his freshman year in English I, family and consumer sciences and was TAKS commended for English language arts. As a sophomore, Gore had the highest overall average in geometry, nutrition and wellness and child development.
Ask him about any topic he’s passionate about and he’ll be glad to talk about it, but don’t expect Gore to come to school flashing his medals and trophies to show off his successes. He’s just happy to achieve them, know he gave his best and confident in his abilities. He deliberately does NOT wear his successes on his chest in pride but takes them in stride as one would a pat on the back, then moves on to ensure others don’t find him “braggadocios.”
“When I won, even the Japanese Exchange Program scholarship, I didn’t tell everyone. I don’t wear medals to school or anything,” Gore said.
“He is such an humble person and he is the cheerleader for so many others, not himself,” said Leah Gore, Casey’s mom, who’s also a teacher at Sulphur Bluff ISD.
“He’s an outstanding student in all respects,” noted Janie Vandiver, FCCLA teacher.
Gore at this point is looking at a career as a clinical therapist with emphasis in hypnosis. He wants to help people. He first became interested in hypnosis following an FCCLA convention in which a hypnotist was one of the featured entertainers. He doesn’t want to have to go to medical school, but is interested in a career in psychology. He’s researched the topic ad nauseum and sees hypnosis as one of the “tools” available in a clinical therapists’ “toolbox” to aid people. One example is using hypnosis to help someone stop smoking.
“It’s cool how you can help but not help. You help people better help themselves by strengthening their mind and controlling their strength,” he said.
He’s already talking to instructors and people in the field to learn more about the profession. Currently, he’s focusing on applying to Texas A&M University-Commerce and the University of Texas-Dallas based on their psychology programs.
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