SAN ANTONIO — Sensitivity drives Deborah Obadiah's heart, according to the John Jay High School junior.
"Compassion towards them, you know, and caring for them," she said.
Obadiah's "them" are students with special needs and the teen volunteers with ALE students and the Special Olympics.
"People used to make fun of like ALE kids, and I personally don't like that," she said. "So I want to show them like they're good enough, you know."
Her vocal stand for the students doesn't match the decibels from her mouth. Obadiah is notably calm and soft-spoken.
Teacher and yearbook advisor James Butler recalls hearing her voice when she walked in as a freshman to join his staff.
"I immediately told her, we're going to have to work on your voice. You're going to have to start speaking louder and more authoritatively," Butler said. "I can tell that you're going to be President of the United States, and you might as well start learning how to do it now."
According to Butler, he knew Obadiah was something special underneath the muted demeanor.
"She's guided by good values, good faith, good morals," he said. "She's intelligent. I mean, what's not to follow?"
Obadiah is the school's yearbook editor. This year's publication will focus on the construction at Jay. Meantime, Obadiah is making certain events that are traditionally undercovered get covered.
"Schools, you usually maximize on sports. And that's not the only thing that happens in school?" she said.
Butler said the junior is among his top three editors in the eight years he's led the yearbook staff. He said that, beyond understanding the technical aspects, Obadiah has an understanding that sets her apart as a student leader.
"It's about who's impacting the community in a positive way and making sure that everybody sees that," he said.
Obadiah, who is on assignment as much as her staff, said she would turn photography into a side gig after high school.
She goes into her senior year as a salutatorian, and her plans after that are to become an orthopedic surgeon. But she doesn't plan to give up helping the underestimated and the sometimes ignored.
"I just like, you know, helping people who are the underdog," she said. "Rise above and show that they're also good people."