This year's Winter Homecoming Court at Marysville High School had a very special guest turned royalty.

His name is Hawkins and he is senior Michael Molchan's guide dog.

On Feb. 3, Molchan and Hawkins were crowned Winter Ice King along with Queen Rose Stanley, also a senior at Marysville.

Molchan and Hawkins became companions in August.

"It was actually my 18th birthday," Molchan said. "I have Stargardt (disease), which is the juvenile form of macular degeneration."

"Basically, it destroyed a lot of my central vision at a young age, so I have a lot of blind spots and no central vision," he said. "It kind of makes it unsafe to cross the street or something on independent travel. So (Hawkins) kind of replaces a cane."

Molchan was diagnosed with Stargardt in 2008.

Information from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation said Stargardt affects both eyes and develops sometime after the age of 6. Early symptoms include having difficulty reading or adapting to bright light.

According to blindness.org, "Stargardt disease is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration, and decreased central vision is a hallmark of Stargardt disease."

Molchan appears to have not let the disease hinder is accomplishments. Winning homecoming king is just one of many achievements.

He has been involved with the Marysville mock trial program for four years and advanced to the state level of competition his junior year.

In January 2016 he earned Eagle Scout status. He recently earned his black belt in karate from the Center for Traditional Martial Arts.

He also served as a delegate to Buckeye Boys State last year and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Stephen Scherer, social studies teacher and student council adviser in charge of the homecoming festivities, said Molchan is very popular.

"The kids really like him," Scherer said. "The kids really liked him before he had Hawkins. He's a great kid. I had him in class. He's just amazing."

Adding Hawkins to Molchan's daily routine at school required some adjustment for staff, faculty and students in a building of 1,300 students.

Bethany Cain, teacher of the visually impaired, said a team meeting at the beginning of the year included all of Molchan's teachers and other staff members at the high school.

"He was the one that ran the meeting and gave us some information about his guide dog," Cain said in an email. He provided rules regarding Hawkins, and those rules were posted throughout the school, she said.

The need-to-know items instructed people to not pet, feed or make direct eye contact with Hawkins and explained how the two work as team and the dog helps him around obstacles.

The student body seemed to embrace Hawkins on the homecoming court with Molchan sharing pictures on social media when Hawkins received his own homecoming sash.

"We have amazing kids that really look at the true character of a person and just see that," Scherer said.

"This is the first year I've done student council. I've been at the school a long, long time.

"You get to see the kids here really care about each other," Scherer said. "I think that's reflection on the entire building and the culture we have here."

Along with Molchan, Hawkins and Stanley, other members of the homecoming court include Blake Dearwester, Ethan Pugh, Josh Damon, Angela Cross, Emily Benjamin, Hailey Christian and Kiya Miller.

Molchan said he plans to attend college though he's not yet decided where. He said he wants to study business.

Molchan said winning homecoming king felt great and that Hawkins was pleased as well.

"It was exciting," Molchan said. "Hawkins is always excited."

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Marysville High School senior Michael Molchan and his guide dog, Hawkins, were crowned Winter Ice King during the homecoming ceremony before a Feb. 3 basketball game at the school. Rose Stanley was named queen.

AMY ROGAN/THISWEEK