Graduation requirements could be challenging for some

Posted June 2, 2010

Just one more exam, and Mollie Tew will be done with high school.

"It makes me feel good," Tew said Tuesday, of earning her diploma, along with her peers at Middle Creek High School.

But she's not exactly like her peers.

Tew, 20, has Down syndrome, and her mother, Vickie Youngblood, has fought for her to be included in mainstream classes since kindergarten.

Graduation requirements could be challenging for some Graduation requirements could be challenging for some

Although Tew has met all graduation requirements – with some accommodations – high school hasn't been easy. For example, she had to take Algebra three times.

"She keeps trying. She doesn't let failing stop her," Youngblood said.

Tew followed the "Career Prep" track to earn her diploma – a track that is no longer offered in North Carolina's public high schools.

Prior to the 2009-10 school year, students had three tracks to choose. Now, there is one track, the "Future Ready Core" curriculum that requires four math credits, instead of three.

"There's this push to really get kids to move to post-secondary experiences," said Ruth Steidinger, senior director of high school programs for the Wake County Public School System.

"Math is always pretty much difficult for Down syndrome kids," Younglood said.

Youngblood said it would have taken longer for her daughter to finish high school under the new curriculum, which requires students to pass Algebra and geometry.

Steidinger says there is flexibility for students with special needs. At a parent's request, along with school counseling, a student can opt out of the math requirement in place of other math courses.

Schools are also offering new classes to help students prepare for Algebra and geometry.

As for Tew, she says she is excited to take on her next goal.

"I'm going to College of Charleston of South Carolina," she said.

She wants to be a physical therapist.

"Everybody is just so proud of everything she's accomplished," Youngblood said. "She's worked really hard for this."


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  • wildcat Jun 4, 2010

    Great Kid. May she continue to be bless. Oh, she has a great mother and I hope she will continue to be bless.

  • threewakecountyboys Jun 3, 2010

    What an inspiration!

  • peppercorns Jun 3, 2010

    I am happy that Mollie has been such a success. She is a heck of a kid from the sound of it. she is lucky though. Not every Down's or mentally handicapped student can mainstream. If that is the case, then that is what "special ed" is for. My child is not handicapped but not good at school; she struggled and passed everything. Not all students are equally intelligent and not all schools should have a single track. BUT with that, not all diplomas should be equal either. A degree from "special ed" should not carry the same weight as a "regular" diploma or an "honors" one.

  • 4Just-ice2 Jun 3, 2010

    GO Mollie!!! You should join some motivational speakers! Your story and strength are touching and inspirational!! Good Luck at College!

  • taurismo Jun 3, 2010

    I'd like to know just to whom, exactly, MzCole, is referring as "these kids". Even with typical children, not everyone passes--not even on the third try sometimes! Not every child, special needs or not, will have the same experiences and graduate from high school.

  • MzCole Jun 3, 2010

    YAY MOLLIE!!!! Now if this girl can get through high school why can't the rest of these kids do the same. Good luck with college baby girl and keep your head up!!! And remember YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!!!

  • weehawk Jun 2, 2010

    Way to go Mollie! Getting through math is one of the toughest things I ever did. It's a real accomplishment and I'm thrilled for you. Keep fighting and dont let anything get you down.