Target: Freeburg High School’s Student Body
Goal: Applaud and congratulate an Illinois high school for selecting girl with Down syndrome to be homecoming queen
A high school’s homecoming usually involves a big football game where alumni “come back home,” followed by a formal dance for the student body. It is a fun-filled event and the announcement of the school’s next homecoming king and queen is greatly anticipated. Freeburg High’s student body is to be congratulated for crowning Shelby Wegrzyn, an 18 year old senior who has Down syndrome, with the distinction and honor of homecoming queen.
Shelby Wegrzyn is a vivacious and friendly senior at Freeburg High School, located in Freeburg, Illinois. A member of the school’s cheerleading team, she is well liked by many. She has never been bullied and her teammates and classmates have said that she inspires them. Shelby Wegrzyn also has Down syndrome, which delays one’s cognitive ability and physical growth and is caused by a chromosome abnormality. This has not stopped Shelby from giving it her all in school, in cheerleading, and in life.
When a group of her cheerleading friends approached the school principal to ask for Shelby to be on homecoming court, the principal agreed. Of the 600 students in the school, approximately 500 showed up at homecoming. Shelby walked in with the rest of the homecoming court, accompanied by her escort, looking beautiful and radiant. But the students took it a step further, selecting her to be homecoming queen by a landslide.
Freeburg’s student body is to be commended for its compassion, tolerance and acceptance of a fellow student who has to deal with both physical and mental challenges. Typically, disabled students are shunned and/or mistreated in both elementary and high school. But the students at Freeburg high school are creating a safe and welcoming environment for all. Please sign the petition below, thanking Freeburg’s students for making a difference in Shelby’s life, her family’s life and their entire community.
Dear Freeburg Student Body,
High school can be a wonderful and exciting time, with new friends, school activities and exciting events such as homecoming. Unfortunately, for many students with disabilities, it can also be a time of isolation and pain. But you decided to select a female student with Down syndrome to be your next homecoming queen. Thank you for your acceptance and compassion.
Shelby Wegrzyn, your fellow classmate, is a friendly, outgoing student who is on the cheerleading squad. In most places, having Down syndrome would automatically preclude one from being a part of homecoming court, let alone being selected as queen. You decided to elect her to homecoming court, and then picked her to be Freeburg’s next homecoming queen by a landslide.
With so many schools becoming breeding grounds for bullying and vicious pranks, it is refreshing to see students taking care of each other and making each person feel as if they belong. You are to be commended for celebrating and honoring your fellow classmate for who she is and for not focusing on her limitations. Congratulations to all of you for caring, and for changing people’s lives, one homecoming at a time.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: FOX 2