High school can be tough for anyone, especially for a student with special needs. For the parents of those students, sending your child off to school each day can be nerve-wracking, wondering if they’ll fit in or feel left out.
Seeing the peppy cheerleader, star quarterback, or homecoming royalty, you might think it would be difficult for a student with Down syndrome to find his place in high school. Luke Sylvester would prove you wrong.
He’s a 19-year-old student at LaGrange High School, and loves school, his classmates, and Gators football. Luke serves the team as an honorary trainer, cheering them on from the sidelines on game night.
“The teachers, the faculty, the students, the coaching staff, the teams, the cheerleaders, the dance squad – everybody has embraced Luke here,” said his dad, Eric Sylvester.
Like most high schools, at LaGrange, the letterman jacket is a rite of passage. It’s nearly 80 degrees and students are still wearing their patches proudly. As an essential part of the team, Luke was presented his own jacket.
“We are going to honor him for his commitment, his dedication, by providing him his letterman jacket,” said Coach Jules Sullen.
For Luke, it’s proof he is truly part of the team and one of the guys. For his family, it’s the reassurance they need to know he’s taken care of.
“The whole school’s got him; the football team said, ‘We got him;’ I know that he’ll never be bullied here, he’ll never be made fun of, in fact he’s elevated,” said Eric Sylvester.