Human Interest

Pennsylvania high school’s Down syndrome mentoring program makes big impact

Down syndrome

In the last month alone, individuals with Down syndrome competed on Britain’s Got Talent, starred in a Disney+ feature film, and were represented for the first time with a Barbie doll. In March, James Martin became the first person with Down syndrome to win an Academy Award.

But a bit closer to home, so to speak, a Pennsylvania high school is doing its part to integrate students with Down syndrome with their peers. In the fall of 2022, Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania, launched a peer mentoring program for students with Down syndrome.

Freshman Michael Schuller was the inaugural participant. During Michael’s eighth grade year, several people reached out to Archbishop Carroll Principal Bill Gennaro about the possibility of him attending school there. The mentoring program was born from that need.

Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, Michael has partnered with eight upperclassmen, one for each class of the school day. Senior Twyla Krebs assists Michael with his favorite class — algebra. She found that he needed minimal accommodations, like a slightly larger font and “maybe one or two less word problems… other than that, we do the exact same thing,” she says, as his peers without disabilities.

And, indeed, Michael sounds like any other teen when asked his favorite thing about high school. Without hesitation, he answered, “friends.” One of his favorite hobbies is playing the video game Fortnite.

Walgreens CVS banner

Senior Brooke Quigley is another of Michael’s peer mentors. She spoke to the benefits she’s reaped from their time together, saying, “I think I’ll definitely look at this time as something that put me out of my comfort zone, but it helped me become a better person and understand more of the world around me.”

Peer mentor and senior Domenic Venini shared the lasting impact his time with Michael has had. “Michael has become my built-in best friend, like I’ve known him for years, but it’s been seven months,” he said. “Obviously, leaving’s gonna be sad, but I’ve already made it my goal every time I’m coming home from college, I will be coming right back here to see him. Going out into the real world and seeing Michael grow, it’s gonna be good to see.”

Already, students have applied to be peer mentors for the 2023-2024 school year, and discussions are in the works for current elementary students in the local area to become future participants. The Archbishop Carroll High School peer mentoring program is one of several options in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for students with special needs.

Did you know that as little as $10 a month is enough to reach more than 3,000 people with the truth about abortion that no one else is telling them? Click here to start saving lives 365 days a year.

What is Live Action News?

Live Action News is pro-life news and commentary from a pro-life perspective. Learn More

Contact for questions, corrections, or if you are seeking permission to reprint any Live Action News content.

GUEST ARTICLES: To submit a guest article to Live Action News, email with an attached Word document of 800-1000 words. Please also attach any photos relevant to your submission if applicable. If your submission is accepted for publication, you will be notified within three weeks. Guest articles are not compensated. (See here for Open License Agreement.) Thank you for your interest in Live Action News!

To Top