Several years ago I read a story about a young girl with Down's Syndrome that was elected Homecoming queen at her high school in Murray, Utah. The story warmed my heart because of the generosity of spirit of the kids in that high school. In the world today with all the negativity about the youth, it's wonderful to hear something positive.
We have had such an experience at our high school this week. It's Homecoming at Liberty...and the kids got it right.
Here's the story:
(With her permission), Meet Katelyn.
She is a wonderful, very talented girl. But, she didn't always act wonderful. In fact, her first two years at Liberty she was a brat. A snotty, mouthy little brat and we butted heads constantly. Sometime in her Jr. year she had an epiphany. One day she came in to the office and sat down and apologized for her behavior. To tell the truth, I wasn't very nice, I was in a stinky mood and probably wasn't very gracious to her. I felt horrible after and sent her a note apologizing for my poopy attitude. Since then, we have become friends. She has become such an incredible young lady that is a little power house on our campus. She was voted as one of the Top 10 for our Homecoming this year, and I couldn't have been happier for her.
This is "Mike" (not his real name as I do not have permission to use his name but I did ask him if I could write about him, he was thrilled...)
He is one of our special students on campus. He has Asperger's and a few other disabilities. He is a sweet boy that is so friendly to everyone on campus. When we have noon-time activities he dances and has so much fun, he tells all the girls how pretty they are. He's funny because he wears ties and bow ties to school for special occasions. Everyone loves Mike. He was voted as one of the Top 10 for Homecoming, and oh, he was thrilled!!!
The first thing after the Top Ten rally Katelyn ran to "Mike" and offered to be his Homecoming partner. One of the first obstacles was that Mike belongs to a church that doesn't believe in celebrations of a personal nature. The second was that his parents are Spanish-speaking. The third was transportation and last and most important, helping Mike know just what to do!! Miss Katelyn was NOT going to be deterred. She arranged to have a translator go to Mike's home and explain everything to his parents and get their permission. She offered to give him rides to and from practice. She helped him choose his clothes and put together their Homecoming skit using all Mike's favorite songs. She got together other kids at school to be back up dancers. When I asked Mike how things were going and if he was having fun he said, "Oh yes!!! Katelyn is helping me handle everything!" She even chose a modest dress out of respect for his beliefs! When most girls want to look sexy, she wanted him and his parents to feel comfortable. Bless her heart.
At the rally when they were introduced it was loud, loud, loud!! Everyone cheered louder for them than any of the others. Not to take away from the other kids, Mike is just loved at Liberty.
It came time to open the boxes of flowers, Mike needed help from one of the other guys. When he saw the red rose, he didn't know quite what to do...He won!!!!
Katelyn was thrilled, she didn't win Queen, but I honestly don't think she cared. Every member of the Administration was proud of her, every staff member was proud of her. Her motives were not selfish, she didn't take "Mike" under her wing for glory or attention but because she wanted HIM to have a great experience. She may not be Homecoming Queen but she had an experience that will last much much longer than a shiny crown. True compassion towards another is priceless.
But wait!!!! There's MORE to the story!
The young lady who DID win has Cerebral Palsy. It has affected her physically but she is an excellent student and has been class president and a leadership member. She was in a wheel chair until seventh grade and when I met her three years ago she walked with crutches. She has endured surgeries and physical therapy throughout her life that has enabled her to learn to walk. She is an amazing young lady who has overcome much adversity in her life. To see her walk in her special way across the football field to be crowned Queen and to see "Mike" walk over to be crowned King...words escape me. You should have heard the roar and clapping from the crowd.
Katelyn, I am proud of you and proud to be your friend.
Liberty High School...you got it right and I couldn't be prouder!!
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