Highland's freshman class is heading back to school this week with photos for their lockers, memories for a lifetime and a lesson for the rest of us after their first high school prom.
Addie Michek might have been the only high school girl not making a fuss over what she'd wear or how she'd do her hair for prom. Addie is 17 years old and has Down Syndrome. She's nonverbal but has her own way of communicating with her classmates - friends who have become family after growing up together in their class of 30 students. Just ask her friend, Brody Smith.
"More like best friends," he said. "We're all good friends with her, we're not just classmates."
So when it came to prom, there was no question Addie would be joining them under the lights. It was Cal Dorota's idea at first to ask her.
"When I was in 6th grade, it was around this time, the week of prom, I told my mom I was going to ask Addie my freshman year," he told us.
As popular as Addie is, all the boys wanted in. They put together a sign, and more than a dozen of them marched into her room to ask her to prom together.
True to form, Addie didn't make much of a fuss.
"We came in and gave her the sign, and Addie was just like normal, she probably didn't care what was happening," Brody said.
Addie had a great time at prom! She’s so fortunate to have such great friends. pic.twitter.com/aRNkeIe7jV— Leah Linscheid (@news3leah) April 15, 2019
Mom Julie Michek-Tess is a teacher at Highland, just across the hall from Addie's room. She was there to see it all happen.
"Her aide came in and said, 'we need you,' and I was thinking that Addie maybe was in trouble," Ms. Tess said.
The tears came shortly after.
"She thought we forgot about Addie, but no one forgot about Addie, we could never forget about Addie," Cal said.
"I could tell you thing I remember most, because it was quite emotional, was the genuine smiles on their faces," Ms. Tess said.
"I almost started crying, to be honest, but it was really good to know Addie was going to be included in everything and she's not going to be left out," Brody said.
The moment just confirmed something Ms. Tess says she already knew - this class has her daughter's back.
"She's Addie. She's one of their classmates," she said. "You know they're probably still waiting for her to wish them good morning, and maybe it won't happen - but she has her way of saying good morning."
Memories of your first high school dance can last a lifetime. For Ms. Tess, it's the memories leading up to prom that are making an impression.
"It is a nice feeling just knowing she's accepted. I think that's the big thing. She's accepted for who she is - Addie."
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