WINTHROP – When students at Winthrop High School heard about a boy with Down syndrome in Kansas who had been stripped of his varsity letter they didn’t hesitate to send them one of theirs.
Jolinda Kelley, of Wichita, Kansas purchased a varsity letter for her son Michael’s letter jacket after he was recognized for playing basketball. When he wore the jacket and letter to school he was asked to take it off. Apparently, another parent was not happy he was wearing the jacket. According to Wichita East High School the policy is that only members of the varsity teams are allowed to wear letter jackets.
Since March people from all over have lent their support to Michael and there is a move to change the school policy.
When students in Pauline Boyijian’s Double B’s class heard about the problem they rallied to make Michael an honorary Winthrop Viking and honorary Double B. Students wrote Michael letters of encouragement and sent him a varsity letter donated from Winthrop Pro Shop.
Principal Matthew Crombie, athletic director Matt Serino and students in the Double B’s Life Skills class got a Winthrop High School Letter made out and dedicated to Michael. Students turned the situation into a learning experience about community and helping others, said Boyijian.
Students also wrote letters to Mic
hael, including this one from Double B student Rufo Barriga: “Dear Michael, My name is Rufo Barriga and we both play basketball. I even play in Special Olympics along with the other students and friends who also have disabilities. My favorite basketball player is Lebron James. Stay strong.”
Sue Ellen Woodcock can be reached at [email protected]