Relatives of the student chosen as "king" at Romeoville High School's Prom this year say his classmates gave him an immeasurably meaningful gift.
In a popular vote, students at the suburban Chicago school elected Maurice Booker III, a special needs student with Down Syndrome, as king of the 2012 prom, themed "A Night At The Oscars."
Maurice's grandfather Mike Flowers posted his heartfelt thanks to the community in a comment on Romeoville Patch:
I want to commend the students at RHS for making Prom a very special event for my grandson Maurice Booker, a special needs student who they chose to be their Prom King. You have no idea how much this meant to Maurice, as well as our family. Time and time again, both the students and faculty at RHS have shown a great deal of class and compassion and have always supported Maurice during his high school years. Thank all of you for making Maurice's high school years at RHS an experience that Maurice and our family will never forget.
News of the kindness shown by Romeoville students comes in stark contrast to a recent flurry of media coverage highlighting high school cruelty, including youth suicides allegedly prompted by bullying and allegations of severe hazing at other high schools in the area.
Booker's father, Maurice Booker, Jr., told CBS Chicago he was initially worried that his son would be mistreated by classmates, and said he remembered having little exposure to special needs students when he was in high school.
But in another comment posted on Patch, Booker's father commended the school's staff and students for treating his son so well.
"We would like to take this time to thank the staff and student body at RHS," Booker Jr. wrote. "We have had nothing but great success there and every one [sic] has really showed nothing but compassion to Maurice and our family."
Maurice Booker III will graduate with his classmates next month and begin a program that offers job placement in the city, according to CBS.