Genetic disorder doesn’t deter Sequim student

Peers nominate classmate with Down syndrome for Sequim High Homecoming royalty

SHS Homecoming festivities, 2015

Football game: Sequim vs. Port Angeles

When: 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16.

Where: Sequim School District stadium

Features: SHS Homecoming Royalty named at halftime



Having a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21, a genetic disorder known as Down syndrome, didn’t keep Nick Barrett, 17, from becoming a member of the 2015 Sequim High School Homecoming court.

At halftime during Friday’s Homecoming football game against the Wolves’ rival, the Port Angeles Roughriders, Barrett will be crowned duke, prince or king.

Barrett’s peers at SHS nominated him last week along with fellow seniors Katie Rogers, Karen Chan, Jack Shea, Mckenzie Bentz and Evan Hurn.

“I think it’s amazing he was nominated and it shows the maturity of the students at Sequim High School,” Bill Schroepfer, assistant wrestling coach, said.

Schroepfer has helped hone Barrett’s wrestling skills for two years.

“I try to teach Nick just like any other kid and he usually responds just like any other kid,” he said. “He gives 110 percent everyday in everything he does … I think we all can learn and find inspiration from that.”

In joining the school’s wrestling team, Barrett was able to help highlight the importance of not only being a team, but acting like one.

“We went through a couple of years where the team wasn’t very team focused, but that all changed after Barrett joined,” Schroepfer said.

Shadowing the positive experience associated with his team, Barrett also has been able to connect with students beyond the wrestling mat while participating in the school’s life skills class.

“What’s really happening with all of this is his confidence is increasing,” said Barrett’s mom, Terry. “The environment he’s in now allows him to develop relationships.”

Only after Barrett moved to Sequim in September 2013 did he begin talking about going to college, she said. Prior to attending

Sequim High School, Barrett attended school in Oregon, but its larger size wasn’t as conducive for the positive interactions Barrett has had while in Sequim.

“It’s really all the students here that are making it all so fun for him,” she said. “These kids are doing such a good job — it’s just heartwarming to see this happen.”

For Barrett, being part of the Homecoming royalty isn’t as big of deal as simply the experience of connecting with other students and being included, she said,

“I think it’s more his friends that are making it exciting for him because they’re having fun and he’s a part of it,” she said. “What’s going on here is really amazing.”


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