Big Surprise for Special Needs Student

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Among the busy halls of Independence High School is a girl with an infectious laugh and an equally infectious personality.

“She’s just an amazing person, she’s a hard worker, has a really good attitude about things,” said school principal William McGuinness. “She just has the kind of attitude that you wish every student had. We’re so proud of her.”

The student whom many admire, Sarah Greene, is a senior at the high school. She’s a cheerleader and an active member of several local clubs. Sarah also has Down syndrome.

“She’s someone who you just want to look up to because she doesn’t let having Down syndrome really get her down,” said fellow student Elena Paparizos. “She always has high spirits whenever I see her in the hallway.”

Now, her peers have nominated Sarah for homecoming queen.

Ten candidates were chosen initially and, last week, the school narrowed the nominees down to the final five. However, Sarah didn’t know she was a finalist until her fellow cheerleaders surprised her with the news at Friday’s home football game against Richmond Heights.

“Sarah on top. Top five she got,” the girls cheered.

“They made that up for me,” Sarah said. “They get excited for me. They’re, like, happy for me at the game. I’m excited.”

“The whole student section, just everyone in the crowd went wild because they were so thrilled and ecstatic for her,” Paparizos, a freshman cheerleader, added. “I even started to get a little teary eyed because I’m really close with Sarah and just to see her so excited and so overjoyed with happiness is just, like, the happiest thing anyone could ever want for her.”

Sarah will find out if she wins the crown at this Friday’s homecoming football game against Fairport Harding.

It’s just one highlight of her many memories as a Blue Devil – and an exciting way to kick off her senior year.

“I think Sarah being nominated it speaks so much to her being a part of the Independence High School family totally and completely,” said guidance counselor Mary Dolejs. “Sarah Greene is one of the bright spots in my day. She inspires me in so many ways because she faces a lot of challenges but yet she does the most with everything that she has and just literally lights up a room when she walks into it.”

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