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Fifth graders graduate as champs
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Fifth graders around the county have been graduating from the Newton County Sheriff Office's C.H.A.M.P.S. program recently, but Coy Mullen may have been the most excited.

The adopted, special needs 12-year-old was named the outstanding C.H.A.M.P.S. student for this year's Heard-Mixon Elementary class.

"How can I describe Coy? He's a special needs child, who's one of the happiest little boys you'd ever want to meet," said mother Shiler Mullen, who along with husband Shelton adopted Coy.

“He doesn’t see color as an issue for him. He loves everybody and he wants everybody else to be happy too. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He’s a red head kid that everybody who meets him likes because he is so pleasant.”

C.H.A.M.P.S. stands for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety and is a 12-week program that teaches students to avoid destructive behavior.

A deputy certified in the program teaches 12 one-hour classes on subjects including drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse prevention, boating and swimming safety, hunting and gun safety, gangs and violence and peer pressure. Cpl. Kevin Freeman was Coy’s teacher.

“When they picked the outstanding C.H.A.M.P.S., the instructors pick without any input from the school,” said Shiler. “Cpl. Freeman immediately saw all the things that everybody else sees when dealing with this child. That in itself made the award special.”

However, as usual, Coy’s focus was on his brother Shawn, who has even more severe special needs.

“For him it was a gift to give to his brother,” Shiler said. “A chance to say ‘Look what I won for you,’ because he can’t participate in all of the other (extracurricular) activities.”

“It was an emotional time to see Coy Mullen receive outstanding C.H.A.M.P.S. student,” said teacher Mary Horton. “All of the fifth grade students stood and gave Coy a standing ovation.”