By Emily

When “Pomp and Circumstance” echoes through an auditorium, gym, or hall, it marks a time of accomplishment and celebration. On June 4th, this timeless song echoed through St. Thomas of Villanova church as my sister Karlee made her way down the aisle; my family had quite a few accomplishments to celebrate.

As the only child with Down syndrome to graduate from St. Thomas, she amazed everyone with the things she achieved in her eleven years there. She kept up with her classmates not only in her schoolwork but also in her extra-curricular activities. Karlee played the clarinet for two years, served as Secretary of School Spirit as a seventh grader and Secretary of Religious Affairs her eighth grade year on the school’s student council, along with being on the cheerleading squad and being a Special Olympic gymnast.

Now, as she moves on to high school, she carries along the same drive with which she’s been living. Karlee will be attending Palatine High School in the fall. With aspirations to be a chef one day, she plans on taking a foods class and joining FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), along with Best Buddies.

She just started summer school, and already everyone knows her name, but not only because she’s a brand new freshman. Karlee came home one day and told us she wanted to be on the flags team. Not wanting to discourage her, we let her take a chance and try out. She attended a rigorous three-day tryout, coming home everyday more enthusiastic than we expected her to be. On the third day, she came home with amazing news. She had made it! Word spread throughout the school of this amazing girl with Down syndrome who tried and succeeded.

Karlee continues to amaze us with her accomplishments, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. When she says she wants something, she goes out and gets it. Congratulations, Karlee, on all your accomplishments. We love you, and Go Pirates!

Ann Garcia

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