A student with sensory issues has received a silent ovation as he accepted his diploma, graduating from Carmel High School in New York.
“I would like everyone to not clap, to not cheer, because it may overstimulate Jack as he comes to the podium,” the school’s principal, Lou Riolo, told the assembled students.
After eight long years hard at work in the school’s program for students with cognitive, learning or behavior challenges, Jack, who suffers from autism, was finally presented with his diploma on June 20 of this year.
“Jack Higgins please come to the stage to receive your diploma,” Riolo said, as the proud young man strode up to the stage.
Then, something extraordinary happened — one or two students began to rise to their feet, in total silence. Then followed three of four more. Moments later, the entire graduating class rose to honor the student in his achievement.
“In our school, we have a banner as you enter all of our school buildings #WhatsBestforKids,” Riolo told CNN. “It sounds corny but makes sense. But in this case what was best for Jack?”
Indeed, with students often receiving an unfair reputation as being rebellious, loud and disruptive, this was a wonderful example of how young people can rise to a challenge.
“I truly believe people have a kind, compassionate soul and they want to help and this was one of those occasions,” Riolo added.
“The students were amazing. They are a class act and superseded expectations.”