NORMAN — When pop singer Katy Perry's song “Roar” was released in August, it quickly became the unofficial anthem of Norman High School.
With its references to “the eye of the tiger,” the song was made to order for a school with a tiger mascot.
So it was a no-brainer that the school would enter a video music contest for high schools sponsored by Perry and based on the song. Another no-brainer? To feature senior Jake Pyle, 17, who inspires his classmates with his ever-ready smile and positive attitude, despite living with a chronic illness.
Diagnosed at the age of 2 with Type II spinal muscular atrophy, Pyle has spent most of his life in a wheelchair. That doesn't dampen his spirit or his will to live, which has astounded doctors who predicted he wouldn't live past the age of 5.
When he did, doctors then said 7, then 8, then 9, then 11. After that, they stopped putting an end date on his life.
“Jake defines the meaning of ‘Roar,'” said classmate Peyton Powers, who has known Pyle four years.
Pyle had never heard the song before Powers and other classmates played it for him.
“When I heard it, I said, ‘that's so true,'” Pyle said. Paraphrasing one of the song's lines that apply to him, Pyle said, “I've been knocked down, but I got up — that's me. I'm a fighter.”
The theme of the “Roar with Katy Perry Contest” is “Eye of the Tiger,” said Powers.
“There's no better embodiment of that than Jake, so our video is from his perspective. He's an inspiration for every student and especially a student living with a chronic illness.”
Student congress adviser Dawn Brockman said the idea of featuring Pyle in the music video “just took on a life of its own. It began as an idea of the student congress, but everybody and every organization jumped on board. It truly became a collaborative effort. The whole school got involved.”