In the beginning of the graduation ceremony at Carmel High School, School principal Lou Riolo, had something very important to say.
“We talk about the six “C’s” here at Carmel. One “C” that often gets left aside and is so very powerful and underestimated is the “C” for compassion.”
So then he continued his speech by asking his students a favor.
“I’m going to ask the class of 2019 in diverting from the traditional framework of our graduation ceremony.” – he said.
Afterwards, he continued “We have a young man here with us tonight. A member of the class of 2019. His name is Jack Higgins. Unlike many of us, Jack is super sensitive to loud noises. So I’m asking that we give Jack his diploma first at the beginnin of the ceremony. In order to do that, I’m going to ask a big favor of everybody today.”
He requested that everyone would not clap, not cheer. That would overstimulate Jack as he would go to the podium to receive his diploma.
“So we will announce Jack like everybody else. Jack Higgins, please come to the stage to receive your diploma”.
School principal Lou Riolo said that “what followed was nothing short of a miracle.”
Higgings, who has autism, was able to walk on the stage in total silence…
while his classmates rose and softly clapped for him.
His classmates’ compassionate act allowed Jack to experience one of the most memorable moments of his life.
Riolo said he couldn’t be prouder of his students. Their actions of standing up in honor of their classmate was their idea. It was not rehearsed. It was geniune.
Higgins’ parents said they were “ecstatic and overcome with happiness for their son.”
Jack is set to attend Ability Beyond in Chappaqua, N.Y., a program tailored by students with disabilites.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.
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