Friday, April 29, 2011

Ethan's Senior Class Includes a Young Man With Down Syndrome!

ethan and our friend,
bill husfelt,
school superintendent

proud daddy and son!

yesterday was ethan's senior year academic awards ceremony!  last night was his mapps traditions ceremony.... from here on out it's just one thing after another until graduation in 17 days!   it was a great day!   he received his 4th academic medal for maintaining a 4.0+ gpa!  we are very proud of him!  and he will graduate with 36-40 hours of college credit!  he'll be entering the university of west florida as a sophomore.  and it will happen before we turn around!!! 

me and my firstborn! 

so, i was NOT prepared for the end of the academic ceremony yesterday.   i had forgotten that there is a senior at ethan's high school who has Down syndrome.   i had forgotten that he will be graduating with ethan.   i had NEVER seen him before.  at the end of the ceremony, the last awards given were academic certificates of achievement for students who have maintained a 3.0-3.199 gpa for the year (b+ average).  out of the corner of my eye i see a young man moving towards the "receiving" line to shake hands with all the district officials and the principal....i say to tim, "is that a student with Down syndrome?", and sure enough, it was!    there he was, a young man with Ds, receiving his academic achievement certificate!   yes, i was teary....more than a little teary.   (i apparently have become an emotional mess as ethan's graduation rapidly approaches!)    wow!   would that be our wyatt in 17 years?    i told tim that we will be VERY old by then...and will have to sit in the "handicapped" section on the lower level! 

as we went down to congratulate ethan, i asked him about the student with Ds, he said, "oh yeah, that's manny."   manny has gone to school with ethan for 4 years and i have never seen him.   i looked around for manny, and he did not have any parents there with him.   that made me sad.  he was standing around on the fringe of a group of girls, one whose mom included him in their picture....way to go mama!   but for the most part, he was alone.  and that made me sad.    as we were leaving, i went out of my way to find him and shake his hand and congratulate him for his achievement!   he was very gracious and personable.   i'm glad i got to speak to him; i WAS so proud for him! 

as i have reflected on manny being basically alone after the ceremony, it's made me think....A LOT.   does he have friends in the school?   i asked ethan these questions, and he didn't know (he is a boy, you know!  not awfully observant!).   is that why some people say it's better for our kids with Ds to go to school with other kids like themselves, segregated, as they get older?   i don't know the answers, but i do know it gave me food for thought.    last summer i talked to a mama of a 33 year old young man with Ds at the national conference, and she completely included him in mainstreamed classes.   he learned to read from his Bible!  she felt it was more important for him to be included with typical peers than it was to be segregated in a school to learn "life skills."   she said they taught life skills at home!     he now works a couple of jobs and is heavily involved volunteering in their church.   that's my hope for wyatt...that he will love GOD, have friends, perhaps get married, work....and enjoy his life!   but for now.....we'll focus on walking and talking.....peace......

1 comment:

  1. I was moved to tears reading your post. This week I have spent countless hours pouring over the ETR and IEP preparing for the meeting this Friday for our 5 year old. She is our youngest and we too will be in the "handicapped" section at her graduation. We are in the process of working on a half and half compromise for her kindergarten year. Giving her the one on one teaching from our county DD school and the inclusion and typical peer modeling in the local elementary school where her siblings have all attended. It is a little "outside the box", but we are going for it. I enjoy your blog! God bless.