Students get Up for Down syndrome

Duncan Van, left, a member of Interact’s Best Buddies program, works with William “Trey” Jones III on a craft in the community-based class. Trey was born with an extra chromosome, but that doesn’t mean he is any less.

Nadia Sumlar, Co-editor

Jayme’ Guyer and William “Trey” Jones III were each born with an extra chromosome, but that doesn’t mean they are any less.

“People with Down syndrome are like everyone else,” special education assistant Lenette Henderson said. “They may look different, but other than that, they operate just like us.”

Henderson works with Felicia Dodson, also a special education assistant, and special education teacher Teresa Bonney in the community-based class. Located in D3, the class uses alternative standards to teach students with significant cognitive disabilities. Jayme’, a sophomore, and Trey, a senior, are the only students in the class with Down syndrome, which Bonney said is one of the most common developmental disabilities.

“This makes their physical appearance a little different with smaller eyes, ears, nose, and they learn things at a slower pace,” Bonney said.

Despite their physical and cognitive differences, Jayme’ and Trey are just like their peers.

“They have likes, they have interests,” Bonney said. “They have things that their normal, age-appropriate peers do.”

Jayme’, for instance, likes to run and exercise and loves to laugh and drink Coke.

“I call her my little sour patch kid,” Henderson said. “One minute she hugs on me and the next she’s poking at me.”

Trey, meanwhile, makes everyone laugh.

“He is the class clown,” Henderson said. “He enjoys wrestling, and his favorite wrestler is John Cena.”

Trey also likes ribs and playing basketball with coach Newton Mealer.

When Henderson asked Trey about his favorite basketball player, his answer was swift.

“Me,” he said, laughing.

During Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which is observed in October, staff and students from the community-based class decorated the school with blue and yellow signs with the slogan “Up for Downs.” Two members of Interact’s Best Buddies program, seniors Ashley Halford and Duncan Van, also partnered this month with Jayme’ and Trey for a craft about the parts of an apple.

“Their disability is what makes them, them,” Halford said. “They are just like the rest of us.”

Van said it doesn’t matter that Jayme’ and Trey have a genetic chromosomal disorder.

“They’re still human too,” he said.