Top 5 Homecoming King & Queen Stories from NDSAM

 

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month (NDSAM). And, each year, as regularly as football games kick-off, there are stories of high school students with Down syndrome being crowned homecoming king and queen. Some of the reporting is of the patronizing sort, which rightly deserves the derision by my friend Krista Flint (and other champions of inclusion). But, it seems with increasing frequency, there are fewer stories about the young person “suffering” from Down syndrome who has “overcome it” to be accepted, and more stories about students with Down syndrome being voted king or queen simply because their peers think they are the best student for the honor.

Here are my top 5 stories from this past October, with the links to the full story shared and my favorite quote from each story. Afterwards I explain why I share these stories on this blog devoted to informed decision making about prenatal testing for Down syndrome:

  1. Jessica is a great person. And she’s not different than any of us.” “She deserved it. Everyone loves her.”
  2. “The students genuinely wanted them to win,” said Scott Wood, Arlington High School 2013 house principal. “I think this will start a chain reaction for kindness. Every single person in that room realized that they were witnessing a magical, powerful moment.” Students with Down syndrome crowned king AND queen. 
  3. “We didn’t nominate her because she has Down Syndrome. We nominated her because she’s the nicest person in our class.”
  4. “We just decided to drop out or I decided to drop out because it’s just…to see someone win, especially him…to get the chance to win, not a lot of people get the chance to win … I don’t know, it’s just great to see him win.” Student wins Homecoming King after other candidates voluntarily withdraw to ensure him victory.
  5. So, when her name was called as homecoming queen, the stadium erupted in cheers. “We just jumped up and started screaming, hollering.” Jr High Student receives 90% of vote for Homecoming Queen after effort led by football team.

So, why post about Homecoming Kings & Queens that happen to have Down syndrome? Well, for many, at the time of diagnosis, it is very difficult to even imagine such an image of not even normalcy, but exceptionalism being associated with your child just diagnosed with Down syndrome. At that moment, it can be difficult to not be overwhelmed by negative thoughts and connotations associated with those who are disabled. It can be near impossible to imagine that a child with Down syndrome will grow up, will have friends, will be popular, and will bring to joy to their school by being celebrated as homecoming king or queen. This is the reason for the post about living a life with Down syndrome.

I’m sure there are other homecoming stories that I left off the list that are equally deserving. Feel free to post in the comments links to other stories, or share your own story where an individual with Down syndrome exceeded your (or other’s) expectations of what a life with Down syndrome can be like.

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