VIRGINIA BEACH -- "I never thought, like, something so small could make something so big, and make an impact on what's gonna happen in the future for other children like me," said Brianna Mikeska.
That small thing to which the senior at First Colonial High School referred was her fight to rejoin her cheerleading squad and gymnastics team.
When the Navy stationed Mikeska's father in Japan during her junior year, she moved there with her parents. For several reasons, including the opportunity to graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma, Mikeska returned to Virginia Beach for her senior year. Her mother and father remained in Japan.
Virginia High School League's "transfer rule" prevents students moving without their parents from participating in extracurricular activities. It's meant to prevent people from shopping teams.
VHSL originally denied Mikeska's appeal, citing that she did not go through an "undue hardship" as a reason for her leaving. In October, the league came back with a different ruling, declaring Mikeska was, in fact, eligible to participate in extracurricular activities.
Delegate Chris Stolle of Virginia Beach had been supportive of Mikeska's fight to become eligible again. Stolle is the chief patron of House Bill 1497, which is being referred to as "Brianna's Bill."
If passed by the General Assembly in its 2013 session, the legislation would keep other military children from going through similar fights.
"We need to make sure that this doesn't happen to any other military kids who, you know, don't choose to move around. They move around because their parents have decided to serve their country," said Stolle, who served in the Navy for 24 years and whose father was a career military officer. "I love the message that it sends to not just to her, but to her classmates, really to everybody, is that, you know, one person can make a difference.
Besides Stolle, Delegate Ron Villanueva and State Senator Harry Blevins are patrons of the bill.