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Heroism at Gunn

Original post made by alice u. hahn, Fairmeadow, on Apr 29, 2011

I work occasionally as an aide for a Special Education class at Gunn High School.One day in April, I was escorting a student with Down's syndrome.

That day in gym class, the class was playing badminton. The students were paired up in fours and working hard to improve their skills with their peers. My student was trying as well, but by herself. She struggled with control and coordination of her racket.

All of a sudden, she approached another student and asked,"Can I play with you?" To my pleasant surprise, the young men responded,"Yes, of course," and played badminton with her until the end of the class. My special needs student hit the birdie all over the court, and the young men picked it up from the floor many times. He continued to be her partner until the end of the class.

I thanks the young man,but forgot to ask his name. So whoever you are, I want you to know that you are my hero. If I were a college recruiter, I would choose you over others who might have higher grades. If I were a manager at a Fortune 500 company, I would choose you over others with fancier resumes. Because in the end, it is not your school record that determines who you are and the impact you make on the world. It is your character and your life philosophy that bring success. Understanding, kindness and regard for fellow human being are the ingredients needed for a successful global person of 21st century. I am glad I observed these traits in this young man in gym class at Gunn High School.

Comments (8)

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Posted by Mom of kid with DS
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2011 at 6:05 am

Dear Alice:

What a beautiful story. I have a child with Down Syndrome also, and I will never forget him running into a group of boys at Juana Briones who were playing ball. I ran over to pull him out, and even at that young age, they all said "no, no!! let him play!". When I asked them why, one of the boys said "We like to see him happy and we can play around him."

Definitely a moment to keep forever for our hope in the next generation.

I was concerned that this gentleness would be "grown out" of the boys by the time they got to High School, and I am so encouraged to see by your story that it doesn't have to be so.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 29, 2011 at 7:42 am

I have witnessed hearing the Paly choir sing beautiful concerts with several special ed students who can be heard singing off key yet really feeling part of the choir. The rest of the choir plus the Director are wonderful with them and I can see that all students are benefitting from the experience.

I think we forget that there are wonderful things happening all the time in our schools in regards to non-academic experiences. Most of these things are never going to be put on college apps, or win awards for volunteer hours, but they are just turning our young people into future adults to be proud of.

Thanks for starting this discussion.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2011 at 7:55 am

It's a beautiful story. Thanks for posting it and let everybody knows we have wonderful kids around us. Proud of you.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:49 am

Bravo. Proud of our young people. They are not care about their academic only.

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Posted by Gozwoggle
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Your story about this young man's exemplary kindness is heartening. Many years ago I taught the SPED class for cognitively disabled students at Paly. At the time there was a club called the Special Friendship Club on campus, led by Jim Toole. This group was involved with helping our mentally-challenged students feel more comfortable on campus. They spent lunches with students, made regular contact, and even put together a dance for them. I found Paly students to be consistently kind and caring towards their less able peers. They truly helped make our students feel accepted on campus.

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Posted by DS
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Thanks for sharing a touching story.

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Posted by KarateTeacher
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2011 at 7:06 am

Great story! I agree that this sort of kid is probably going to be a better employee in the future than some of the other kids who may have ignored the "special" child.

I teach Karate. I've had a couple 11-12 year old students that I really hope return to class. They are both overweight and one of them has club feet, which makes Karate a real challenge. But I remarked to another child yesterday that those two kids were ALWAYS smiling. The child I spoke with about it agreed that those 2 larger kids were always happy and he also hoped they would return. It's nice to see that many of our kids seem to share our appreciation for a(nother) child's happiness.

Let's all remember such stories and be encouraged by them.

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Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this story of the sweet boy and the fun they had together...

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