In this day and age, it’s a rare sight to see a young person care so much for their family, peers, and community. So let me introduced you to one! KateLynn Oden is a senior at Cedarville High School and come May 2, she will be a 13-year graduate. Recently the school district decided it would be best to put off homecoming until things could be done more safely next year. As news of their decision started swirling around the school, hearts were breaking right along with it. When Katey (who was one of the girls chosen to be in homecoming) heard the news, she jumped into action.
She wrote a letter to the superintendent explaining how other schools were safely doing a virtual homecoming and after taking her letter to the school board, the ruling was overturned and homecoming was back on! “Having a homecoming is important to me because of the girls that are seniors that haven’t been a maid,” explained Oden. “I didn’t want anyone to miss a chance to be able to experience being a homecoming maid. It is a tremendous honor to be picked, and some girls really look forward to that every year, including me!”
Also in the running for Queen were seniors, Makayla Pearcy, Audrey Gathright, and Autumn Murray. Included in the rest of the homecoming court, were 7th-Graders Olivia McGill and Kayla Shepard, 8th-Graders Paige Cluck and Lillian Ming, freshmen Kasydi Johnson, Sierra Clayborn, Emily Mizell, and Katelyn Moore-Guerra, sophomores Reese Giberson and Kylie Murray, and juniors Taylor Henson and Kirsten Garner. Mizell earned the title of Jr High Princess while Autumn Murray was crowned Queen. Along with being in the running for homecoming queen, Katey is also running a program called “A Chance to Dance”. “Chance to Dance is a program that provides free formal attire to any student in the Cedarville School District that might need it. We provide the shoes, jewelry, and the dress. We also just extended to male attire as well with tux’s, dress shirts, and shoes. We receive the attire as donations, occasionally though I will find a really good deal and purchase items for it.”
Oden was recruited by Cedarville Alumni, Kennedy Vinson, who initially started the program through EAST. “She asked me if I wanted to take over after she graduated because she couldn’t think of anyone who would do a better job.” If someone were asked to describe the type of person that Katey is in one word, it would be impossible to do. With a personality bigger than New York City, Katey lights up every room she walks into. She has a heart of gold, unselfishly puts every else’s needs above her own, and goes above and beyond to ensure that those around her are happy.
And if she wasn’t busy enough, Katey also runs track, plays softball and basketball, does pageants, and cheers. Cheer Coach, Treva Rice, had this to say about what it is like to have Katey as a student-athlete. “If I could describe KateLynn with one-word, cheerleader would come to mind. Katey is a constant encourager. She is not afraid of hard work. She juggles cheer with other sports, college, and AP classes. Katey does all of this and gives 100% every time. If I have a place in a routine that needs someone to be showy, that is where I put Katey. If I need someone to keep a stunt up that is falling, that’s where I put Katey. If someone is down and needs encouragement, that’s where I put Katey!”
When asked why she thought it was so important to have a homecoming this year, Coach Rice explained, “Everyone knows this year has been hard on everyone, but I feel it has been especially difficult and at times heartbreaking for high school students. We wanted to try and have a basketball homecoming of some sort so that the students would know that we are doing our best to make life long memories for them. The “A Chance to Dance” program has become a vital part of our school. I have witnessed numerous girls find their dream dress through “A Chance to Dance”.”
“Numerous girls who would not otherwise have been able to afford a formal dress for prom or homecoming have had their dreams come true through this program. Katey is the perfect person to lead “A Chance to Dance” because she has the biggest heart for helping others. This week when a girl found a dress that she wouldn’t otherwise be able to get, I watched as happy tears streamed down her face. It is the same with cheer. KateLynn’s life brings joy and encouragement to so many!”
So what is the driving force behind why Katey does what she does? “My passion is ultimately driven by the want to help others. I enjoy helping others and making them feel amazing on the day of their special occasion,” Oden expressed. One life that Katey has made an impact on is with fellow classmate and long time friend, Tayler Henson who is also on the homecoming court with Oden. “I’ve known Tayler almost my entire life. Her little brother used to play baseball with my little brother but as we got older we started to drift our own ways. Eventually, we became close again.”
The “A Chance to Dance” program was one way that the two found each other in one another’s lives again. “Tayler used the “Chance to Dance” program this year. We provided her shoes, a dress, jewelry, as well as doing her makeup while Karessa with Sophie’s Family Hair in Figure Five, donated her hair skills. I don’t think we could have found a better dress for her though. It was absolutely perfect!” On February 12, during Cedarville’s virtual basketball homecoming, Katey’s never-ending compassion for others continued. Although she did not receive Queen, Katey did something that brought everyone to tears.
Since this would be Oden’s last year in high school, Katey gifted Tayler with a crown of her own. “I had a lot of fun doing it and I was scared but still had lots of fun,” expressed Tayler. “I feel so pretty! I never want to get out of this dress! Thank you Katey for helping me and for making this so much fun!” Coach Rice concluded, “I expected nothing less from KateLynn. She goes above and beyond to help anyone, anywhere, at any time. Her focus is on making this a great experience for others.” This might be the end of Katey’s high school career but it’s definitely not the end of the incredible things Oden has left to do. Katey plans on attending John Brown University where she wants to major in Psychology and graduate with a Bachelors degree and later a Ph.D. in Psychology. After college graduation, Katey, who was born to be a humanitarian, is off to continue changing the world while making a difference one life at a time!