||Last Updated: May 21, 2014 - 9:03:26 AM
Bishop England High School’s
Options Program benefits all
On Friday evening, April 25, the students at Bishop England High School did something truly remarkable; they chose our son Daniel James Brannan as the Prom King. To any who read that and shake your head wondering what ever makes that so special, please allow me to explain.
On May 8, 1994 my wife gave birth to our twin boys. Daniel, the first born, was born with Down syndrome. Michael, his twin brother and “womb mate” was born typical. Thus began our introduction in the life and challenges of raising a “special needs” child.
I’ll never forget the day the boys were born and the doctor, in very cold and clinical terms, told us we were the parents of a child with Down syndrome. When we were finally alone in Beth’s room she turned to me and with tears in her eyes asked: “Dan what are we going to do?”
I responded, with no fewer tears in my eyes: “we’re going to love him just like we love our other children.” But I can tell you; even as I said it I had no idea how true that would become.
Daniel has been a true joy in our lives. And I believe it is accurate to say that we have learned as much from him as we have taught him. Daniel loves unconditionally and he forgives immediately. Now I ask, where have we all heard those instructions before? And then I would add, imagine a world where we all had more Daniel in us?
Daniel is at BEHS, a private Catholic high school because BE has an Options Program. The Options program is a forward thinking program that is all inclusive. The BE students have rallied around what they call the Band of Buddies, a group of high school men and women who spend time outside of the classroom and school environment with the Option students. In other words the BE program engages in active cross pollination where all students learn from, and about, one another.
So who benefits? Daniel has for sure but I also believe that every teacher and student on the BE Campus benefits simply by the mere exposure to those with Special Needs. As the students and teachers become more familiar with those with special needs it has become apparent that the exposure has helped them understand and accept and embrace those who heretofore may have found themselves on the margins of society. Instead of viewing Daniel as being different in a bad way—possibly even as an outcast, they’ve crossed some of those old historic barriers that at one time caused many to act in some not so kind ways. On Friday night April 25, the BE students demonstrated with remarkable clarity and purpose that they…GET IT!
As the father of Daniel, I believe the students at Bishop England High School did more than crown a king, when they chose Daniel to be the Prom King; they took the next big step and sent a message to all who hear…love and acceptance should have no boundaries.
From the heart of this father I want to thank the Bishop England High Schools students. Your actions advanced the ball of life another few years. In the famous words of astronaut Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Father of Daniel James Brannan