First deaf mascot at Portland High ‘not that special of a story’

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A couple months back, a press release came across my desk. It said, for the first time ever, a deaf student was playing the part of Portland High School’s bulldog mascot.

I thought, hey, that’s a cool story that needs to be told. But the more I pondered it, the more I wondered if it was really a story. I mean, why couldn’t a deaf student be a mascot? Would it be kind of insulting to suggest it was a big deal at all?

I have a friend named Stu. He get’s around on crutches or on a scooter. I’d often heard him say how much he hates media stories proclaiming: Heroic disabled man goes to store for a gallon of milk.

That’s hyperbole, of course, but I got his point. He hates pity and he hates being treated differently.

Kamron King, a Portland High School freshman, has been deaf since birth. This school year, he became the first deaf student to play the bulldog mascot role. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Kamron King, a Portland High School freshman, has been deaf since birth. This school year, he became the first deaf student to play the bulldog mascot role. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

I hemmed and hawed about the story and, in the end, I just decided to just ask the kid what he thought.

“It’s actually not that special of a story,” said Kamron King, the freshman playing the bulldog. “Being a mascot, for a hearing and a deaf person, is exactly the same thing.”

King, who lives in Saco and attends Portland High via the Governor Baxter School of the Deaf, is also on the school track team. He can hear a sliver of sound in his left ear with the help of a high tech hearing aid. He speaks more than he uses sign language and would love to learn to play the drums, he said.

His father, Michael King, assured me that his son was like most 15-year-olds. He likes to sleep late and play video games.

Camilla Langston and daughter Maya Nichols check out the Portland High School bulldog during a Thursday night basketball game at the Expo. The bulldog is played by freshman Kamron King. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Camilla Langston and daughter Maya Nichols check out the Portland High School bulldog during a Thursday night basketball game at the Expo. The bulldog is played by freshman Kamron King. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

But that’s not to say he doesn’t feel some pride at being the first deaf student to play the part.

“You know, I’m a deaf person first but I want to be the first deaf person to be a mascot for Portland High School,” he said. “That’s kind of cool.”

Portland High School cheerleaders (from left) Sydney Robinson and Jenny Hill flank the bulldog mascot played by freshman Kamron King on Thursday night during a basketball game at the Expo. King is the first deaf student to ever don the bulldog suit. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Portland High School cheerleaders (from left) Sydney Robinson and Jenny Hill flank the bulldog mascot played by freshman Kamron King on Thursday night during a basketball game at the Expo. King is the first deaf student to ever don the bulldog suit. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Kamron King, 15, (center) poses for a picture with his family: brother Zack, 11, sister Trinity, 9 and his parents Michale and Debi. Kamron King is the first deaf student to play the part of the Portland High School mascot. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Kamron King, 15, (center) poses for a picture with his family: brother Zack, 11, sister Trinity, 9 and his parents Michale and Debi. Kamron King is the first deaf student to play the part of the Portland High School mascot. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.