As schools throughout Owensboro and Daviess County celebrated World Down Syndrome Day with crazy socks and celebrations, Highland Elementary School had a special reason to celebrate. HES is home to four exceptional young ladies, Anna Sue Maurice, Chapel Estes, Sydney Ebelhar and Caylon Conn.
“Each one of these girls has their own bubbly personality,” said HES principal Leslie Peveler. “They are just like everyone else here, with the exception of one thing, having Down Syndrome. These girls are part of our family — they are Hornets. They have friends here and good relationships with the adults; they are expected to learn and do. However, they also teach us that our differences are what makes us unique and special.”
Peveler said that World Down Syndrome Day was the perfect day to not only celebrate the joy these young ladies brought to Highland, but to educate the other students as well.
“Anna Sue’s mother, Cindy, bought each classroom two books that teachers could read to help us learn even more about Down’s Syndrome,” Peveler said. “Cindy has been the big promoter for us with Rock Your Socks, but each family has worked to spread understanding in our building in some way over the past few years.”
Peveler wanted to make sure that others understood that Crazy Sock Day in their building was never about fundraising, but more about awareness and celebration. However, HES did take in $192 for the World Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network by selling socks to the staff in the building for a donation. The staff also donated the $100 winnings they received from the ODT Dance Extravaganza in February to the Green River Down Syndrome Association. But the community awareness didn’t stop there.
Anna Sue even invited her friend, Puzzle Pieces talk show host and former Highland student Jeff Rhinerson to visit her at preschool, where he took his show live.
“Anna Sue specifically comes in the front door and doesn’t know a stranger, she loves to talk to people and show them what she can do,” Peveler said. “She’s feisty and full of spunk and that makes everyone’s day better.”
Anna Sue’s popularity reaches far beyond the walls of Highland Elementary School and throughout the community, as does her mother Cindy’s desire to spread awareness for Down Syndrome. The two even made a visit Thursday to the circuit court clerk’s office.
“Cindy is a huge advocate for her daughter, Anna Sue, who has Down Syndrome,” said Daviess County Circuit Court Clerk Jennifer Besecker. “When Cindy posted on Facebook about World Down Syndrome Awareness Day and wearing crazy socks I knew this would be something fun to participate in as an office. I love to support the different organizations that my family, friends and employees are passionate about.”