O’Neal brightens Northside

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

YEATESVILLE — Antione O’Neal brightens the halls of Northside High School and the lives of the staff and his fellow students.
He’s been described as being compassionate, joyful, responsible, caring and a blessing. He’s also known for his contagious laughter and smile.
A 17-year-old junior, he is taught by Ginny Gerard-Batts and Timothy Greer in an exceptional children’s classroom at NHS.
O’Neal is quick to wish everyone he sees a good day, according to Gerard-Batts. He’s seldom seen without Penguin nearby; the stuffed animal plays holiday music and was a Christmas gift.
O’Neal has a long list of favorite things. For example, he likes eating at Farm Boy’s restaurant in Belhaven.
“I would get a cheeseburger with ketchup, french fries and a sweet tea — no mustard, please,” he said.
He also likes watching wrestling, with Stone Cold Steve Austin his favorite wrestler.
O’Neal resides in the Terra Ceia community with his grandmother, Blanche O’Neal. He’s the middle of three boys, with an older brother, Eric, who is serving in the Army, and a younger brother, Michael. The family attends Queen Chapel Church in Pantego, where O’Neal likes singing in the choir.
This is O’Neal’s first year at Northside; previously he attended Washington High School and Bath Elementary School. He said he enjoys school, but he admitted it’s hard to get back in the groove after having the weekend off.
“Mondays are too boring for me … too hard to get up,” he said.
What he does enjoy is “writing numbers and writing lessons on the ‘smart board,’” he added. Group time, where the students work together on activities, is another favorite part of his school day. His favorite teachers and teacher assistants include Rowena Bitar, Nina DeJong and Deidra Mason.
Physical-education class is another school favorite, and he excels at playing basketball and jumping hurdles, and he is well known for playing a mean game of ping-pong.
At reading time, O’Neal is partial to the adventures of “Howard the Rabbit.” But his favorite book is “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas.”
“I like Arthur because he is so happy,” he explained.
O’Neal particularly enjoys field trips, including a recent visit to the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington where he liked watching the crabs and the snakes. He’s also looking forward to a visit to Goose Creek State Park.
O’Neal is drawn to nature, so some of the things he likes best about Northside are the bird feeders that have been placed in trees on the campus.
He also likes birds of another kind — his favorite food served up in NHS’s cafeteria is fried chicken. Add strawberries to the menu and he’s a happy young man.
One day, he hopes to own a bright red sports car. And he has his eye on a career.
“I would like to work at Arby’s and drive a school bus like Tim Tim,” he said. “I will do it if they let me.”
And he has an even bigger dream.
“I want to be president, like Mr. Obama,” he said with a grin.
All about Antione O’Neal …
*Grade and school: junior, Northside High School.
*Birthday: Jan. 8.
*Favorite school subjects: All subjects.
*If he could spend a day with anyone, he would choose: “Nelly Cherry, because she is my friend.” They met at Washington High School.
*Favorite school friend: “DaShawn O’Neal. I like his smile.”
*Favorite animal: “A dog named Legend.”
*Favorite movie: “‘Why Did I Get Married?’ It is just funny.”
*Favorite weekend activities: Sleeping, listening to music, watching TV and going to church.