High School Students Give Silent Ovation So Classmate With Autism Can Attend His Graduation

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When parents Barbara and Pat Higgins wanted their son who has autism to be able to participate in his high school graduation ceremony, they approached his teacher and school about it. Their son Jack has extreme sensitivity to noise, and they were understandably concerned about whether he'd be comfortable sitting in the large auditorium surrounded by many people and lots of noise. Not only did Carmel High School Principal Lou Riolo come up with a great idea, but he also got the entire school on board with it. Lou asked everyone in attendance to respectfully stay silent for Jack so he could receive his diploma, though Jack had been practicing for the event for weeks by sticking his fingers in his ears to drown out the noise.

"The students were amazing," Riolo said, according to CNN. "They are a class act and superseded expectations. For example them rising to their feet after Jack received his diploma was them. It was not preplanned and no one told them to act like that that. They felt compelled to show their support in that way. They made that amazing compassionate gesture on their own."

This act at Carmel High School, not to mention the support of the student body and staff, speaks volumes about what a little bit of compassion can do and what a real community looks like.