A boy with Down syndrome was crowned homecoming king Friday at Papillion-La Vista South High School.
A capacity crowd erupted at the election of Jacob Gehringer, 18, whose crowning took place during a ceremony on the football field at Papillion-La Vista’s Foundation Field. The announcement brought some in the crowd to tears.
Gehringer and the homecoming queen, Adyson Goodnight, 17, took the traditional chariot ride following their selection. It was a milestone for the school that opened in 2003, where officials say acceptance is ingrained in the culture.
Gehringer’s mother, Denise Gehringer, said the inclusive environment at Papio South was a big factor in his nomination.
Classmates got to know her son because they grew up alongside him. He takes the same classes as they do, plays cymbals in the band and is on the bowling team.
His mother said inclusion benefits his classmates, too, opening their eyes to the potential of people with intellectual disabilities.
The students elected him king from among eight boys nominated.
His mother Denise Gehringer said a lot of school districts have taken steps toward inclusion, but Papillion-La Vista has taken the extra step of including special education students to the greatest extent possible in the regular curriculum.