Jack Higgins recently finished up eight years at Carmel High School’s program for students with cognitive, learning or behavior challenges and was ready to graduate. But he has a severe form of autism and is sensitive to noise, so his family wasn’t sure how well he would deal with sitting for hours in a noisy auditorium with hundreds of people.
So his parents talked to the school and principal Lou Riolo came up with an idea: have everyone sit in silence as Higgins crosses the stage to get his diploma. Everyone agreed it was a good idea and at graduation, Riolo asked the audience to keep it quiet before calling Higgins up. He approached the stage with fingers in his ears, ready to block the clapping and cheering he feared, but it didn’t happen. Instead the grad got a silent standing ovation. It wasn’t planned that way, but the students stood quietly to show their support for their classmate, all on their own.
Riolo says, “I have been lucky and blessed to see some really remarkable things in my 31 year career but this so far has to be the most incredible.”
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