NewsHillsborough County


Brag Book: Wharton High School's Haleigh Self

Haleigh Self
Posted at 7:31 AM, Sep 23, 2022

To say 17-year-old Haleigh Self is popular at Wharton High School would be an understatement.

She's practically a celebrity — her pictures decorate the walls of Wharton's Hall of Fame.

Basketball, flag football, softball and track. She's an academic superstar, as well. Her weighted GPA is 5.8, which makes her a candidate for the High School Heisman award.

"High school has been — is basically where I'm nominated for my academic, my athletic and my community service awards, basically, that's basically it. It's a scholarship for $1,000 to $10,000 that I can put towards my college," said Self.

Self is most comfortable with her Best Buddies. The group adores her, and she loves them, too.

"I was the president of Best Buddies when I was in eighth grade. And Best Buddies is basically it's a club where peers like myself are best friends with kids diagnosed with intellectual disabilities," said Self.

Now, as a senior at Wharton, Self is a teacher's assistant in the ESE department. She gets to see her best buddies every day.

"It warms my heart because not only do they have best friends, but I also have the best friend they are my best friends too," she explained.

Georgie Collins is the ESE teacher and Self's boss.

"It's not fake. It's not, hey, I'm going to do what to get on the news. It's not anything of that. It's genuine friendships. So I just had one of her little friends who I heard was having a bad day back there. And I told her come out here. So she got to see the camera. And then I showed her Haleigh. And she smiled because she knows that that's her friend, and she gets to see her every day," said Collins.

They're all friends, but they don't cut Self any slack. Ethan, who's been friends with Self since they were both 11, said she's a bad driver.

"You're not a good driver. "

"Yes, I am Ethan why are you lying!" Self said. as they all laughed.

"It's completely and utterly pure love from them and from me to them," said Self.

"You want your special needs student to have a place to go you don't want them to be afraid to go to school every day. You want them to have friends, those are all things that any parent would want to be able to have Haleigh be one of those people. It's amazing," said Collins.