School ended slightly differently Tuesday at St. Viator Parish School in Las Vegas. Students from its Micah Program — which serves students with Downs syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy — gathered with Student Council members to read a prayer in advance of World Down Syndrome Day, which is today.

Pre-Kindergarten students rock their mismatched socks.

At the end of the prayer, students were reminded to wear colorful, mismatched socks to school today. Why? One second grader summed it up this way: “We wear different socks to show that it is cool to be different and unique.”

The United Nations established this global day of celebration in 2012 and St. Viator students and staff have been celebrating the day nearly every year, by participating in the worldwide Rock your Socks campaign. Mostly, they want to demonstrate just how much they value their classmates Amanda Hodges and graduate Luke Silvestri who have Down syndrome.

Both Amanda and Luke have benefitted from St. Viator’s Micah Program. The program — the only inclusive program 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.”

School officials say that as a result of students in the Micah Program being included and involved in all aspects of the school, St. Viator students are caring and accepting.

Principal Katie Kiss drives Amanda around the campus.

“Even at a young age students are aware and understanding that we are more alike than different, and that being different is why God created us all special,” says Mrs. Angela Sligar, special education teacher in the Micah Program.

Fr. Richard Rinn, CSV, Pastor, agrees and adds that when they started the program — with a grant from the Viatorian Community — he assumed they were doing something special to help the Micah children. He quickly learned otherwise.

“Ten years later we learned the Micah Children did something for us,” Fr. Rinn says. “Our students are more aware and more accepting, more generous with care and compassion.”