Tuesday was a rockin’ good day at St. Viator Parish School in Las Vegas, as students throughout the school sported colorful, mismatched socks. For the last 10 years, Rock your Socks Day, in support of World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, has become a highlight in the school.
“We wore our unique, spirited, mismatched socks today,” explained Principal Katie Kiss. “It’s important to raise public awareness, promote inclusivity, encourage advocacy and support the wellbeing of those living with Down Syndrome.
“Today,” she added, “we celebrate how we are more alike — than different.”
The entire school got into the tradition when Luke Sylvestri, a student with Down syndrome, attended the school beginning in first grade. He graduated and now is in high school, but the school continues to support their fifth grade classmate, Amanda, who is the second student with Down syndrome to attend the school.
Both students have thrived with the support of St. Viator’s Micah Program 6:8. The program — the only one of its kind at a Catholic school in the state of Nevada — takes its lead from the Book of Micah, in the Old Testament: “Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God and each other.”
The program serves children with Downs syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Administrators at St. Viator feel strongly that it is their mission to welcome students with disabilities into their community and provide them with the same quality, Catholic education afforded to their non-disabled peers.
“The true gift of the Micah 6:8 Program is not what we give to our Micah students, but rather it’s the gift they give to us,” Mrs. Kiss adds. “Thanks to daily Micah student interactions, our typical students are kind, patient, inclusive and transformed because they have been given an opportunity to show love and to be loved within Micah. Our community understands this is what it means to be Catholic, this is what we have learned from our greatest teacher, Jesus Christ.”