EVERETT, Wash. -- For as long as there has been high school, there has been a class system -- the jocks, the brains, the pretty girls. But there is also a subset of students that often goes unnoticed.
Casey LaFond and Conner Wright are two special needs students and best buddies. Conner is the shy one, Casey kind of like his big, protective brother. The two have been classmates since preschool. Now, they're seniors at Everett High. It’s quite a milestone considering when Conner started school at age 3, he couldn't even walk.
“He crawled,” said Conner’s mom, Becky. “It has been very hard, but this community has really embraced the two of them.”
On Friday afternoon the Class of 2014 gathered in the school auditorium to crown their homecoming king and queen, but two princes waited in the wings. Conner and Casey prepared for something they never expected. Decked out in tuxedos and fancy shoes, the boys became Everett High's first ever homecoming "dukes."
Senior class leaders decided that from this year forward, special needs kids should share the stage with homecoming royalty.
“I was talking with Conner beforehand and he was really happy he got to have his shiny shoes just like the rest of the guys,” said student leadership spokesman Trever Tuck. “We’re all about breaking down barriers. It made me so happy to see them get the full high school experience.”
Casey gently helped guide his old pal down the aisle and through the swirling spotlights when their names were announced. They joined the jocks and brains and the pretty girls on stage. Casey held his friend’s arm, as Conner sometimes tends to wander. In the crowd, a proud mama wiped away tears. Like any of us, Becky Wright just wants her children to be happy.
“Conner truly has the most giving, loving, pure heart and to see that reciprocated is really valuable,” she said. “This made these boys very happy, but it is good for the whole school.”