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Love Doesn’t Count Chromosomes
The highlight of the first pep rally in three years was not just another promposal.
March 17, 2016
Promposals, asking someone to prom in a public and elaborate way, have been a tradition in high school culture for the past decade, and they seem to be getting bigger and better every year. Arguably, the most public promposal is to ask in front of the entire school, and that’s exactly what senior Halkeiem Lewis did on March 15.
In the middle of the much-anticipated pep rally during fourth block, Lewis walked across the gym with a white rose behind his back.
“We have a special surprise,” said math teacher Ms. Debra Reaguer, who helped to coordinate the pep rally.
Getting down on one knee, Lewis asked Mallory Burrows to prom. With the words “Will you go to prom with me?” on the jumbotron screen, and with the entire school cheering in the stands, Burrows accepted the rose with a “Yes!” Everyone from freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors and staff whooped and cheered in a standing ovation.
“It was incredibly heartwarming,” said junior JR Kellen. “It was such a courageous thing to do in front of 2300 people.”
He did it all on his own; she accepted all on her own.”
— Ms. Robin Flannery, Special Education Teacher
Kellen wasn’t the only one to be touched on Tuesday. The promposal tugged at everyone’s heartstrings.
“If we’re being completely honest, it kind of made me cry a little bit,” said senior Keaton Allen.
Burrows, who was featured last year for bravely rescuing one of her friends from choking, is a student with Down syndrome. Lewis has been looking out for her for four years, and they’ve been strong friends.
“She is caring, funny… she loves dancing and she always has a smile on her face,” said Lewis.
Despite being close, she was surprised when Lewis got down on his knee. Ms. Robin Flannery, special education teacher, was just as shocked.
“I found out at 1:30 p.m. when Halkeiem came and asked me if it was okay,” said Ms. Flannery. “I told him he had to get down to her level since he’s 6 ft tall and Mallory is only 4’ 10”. I had no idea he was going to get on his knee.”
As Lewis “promposed” Ms. Flannery whispered into Burrows’ ear to answer with either a “yes,” “no” or “I don’t know” into the microphone.
But that is all that was coached.
“I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want her to be nervous,” said Ms. Flannery. “He did it all on his own; she accepted all on her own.”
A squealing Burrows showed happiness and excitement when asked how she felt about the experience. With a sparkly blue dress already picked out, the only thing left is to decide a place to eat, according to Ms. Flannery and Burrows.
“I thought I’d ask Mallory because people like her think they’re not like us,” said Lewis. “I just want her to feel like she’s no different.”
And that sentiment is shared by many. Mar. 21 is the World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), chosen because of the extra chromosome 21 that defines Down syndrome. The WDSD is a day that spreads awareness and celebrates all children and adults with Down syndrome.
I just want her to feel like she’s no different than people without disabilities.”
— Senior Halkeiem Lewis
Dunbar’s special education department has celebrated annually, but this year, the celebration will be expanding to the entire school. The Down Syndrome Association chooses a different theme every year, and this year’s theme is crazy socks. Dunbar students are asked to wear their craziest socks on March 21 in honor of all our students like Mallory.
“Love doesn’t count the number of chromosomes we have, so let’s all show support,” said Ms. Flannery.
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