King of Prussia students support young classmates on World Down Syndrome Day

On Monday, the entire school wore what they called crazy socks in support of World Down Syndrome Day.
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Students at a Catholic school in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania took part in the celebration of World Down Syndrome Day by showing support for other students.

Michele Rhine teaches PreK-2 at Mother Theresa Regional Catholic School. She teaches her students multiple languages, including sign language.

Rhine said she learned sign language so that 3-year-old Abby Szostek can take part in daily lessons.

Abby has Down syndrome and is non-verbal, but even at such a young age, her determination shines.

"I can tell you, every one of my children in my class will say, 'That's my Abby. That's my Abby.' Abby is phenomenal,'" Rhine said.

On Monday, the entire school wore what they called crazy socks in support of World Down Syndrome Day.

Even the youngest kids are learning about how some people, like Abby, have more chromosomes than everyone else.

While teaching the class about chromosomes, Rhine said, "We have one that looks like a fruit snack and Abby has some that looks like crazy socks. But does that make us different? Maybe on the inside, but on the outside, no."

Abby's parents said she wasn't able to do much-needed physical therapy last year during pandemic shutdowns, so they got creative. They grabbed some duct tape, a couple of barstools and made a treadmill for her virtual sessions.

"Now, her education is in full steam at Mother Theresa. It's a wonder when she comes home, she starts signing something and I have to look twice, 'did you learn that in school today?' And with her squinty eyes and a nod, that's how she says yes to us," said Abby's father, Dan Szostek.

Abby and another student are the first with Down syndrome to attend Mother Theresa.

"We just love to see her here among her peers and I think the takeaway about World Down Syndrome Day is to include everyone," said Abby's mother, Vicki Szostek.

"The kids really learn from each other and really grow to appreciate and love each other for all their differences. That's really what is most important thing from even outside of education. It's like a life education," said principal Christine Pagan.

"No matter what life throws at you. You just got to pull up your pants, put on your crazy socks, and just tackle it," Rhine said.
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