A smile fit for a queen at Stuart Cramer High School

A smile fit for a queen at Stuart Cramer High School
(Courtesy Ann Payseur)
(Courtesy Ann Payseur)
(Courtesy Ann Payseur)
(Courtesy Ann Payseur)

BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - A mom from Gaston County said she has a son with special needs at Stuart W. Cramer High School. But she didn't write to WBTV's Molly Grantham about him. She wanted to talk about their friend, Brittany Rapp.

Brittany, whose smile seems fit for a queen, is a senior in a Specialized Adaptive Curriculum Class along with ten other classmates.

In order to promote connections between disabled and non-disabled peers, SCHS started a "Project Unify" Club, which is connected to the Special Olympics. This year was it was changed to be called "Unified Champion Schools."

It's a student-led club. The kids in it eat lunch with Brittany's class on a regular basis, assist in Special Olympics events, hold tailgate parties, kickball games, host holiday parties together and more.

"This club has truly been a blessing to my daughter. It makes her feel like she is really a part of the school," mother Nikki Rapp said.

In September, Brittany - along with 20 other senior girls - was elected to be on the 2016 Homecoming Court.

"She was ecstatic!" Nikki said.

Several students from Project Unify who knew Brittany wanted to help. She stayed after school with them one day. Together, they all worked on making Homecoming posters for Brittany. Nikki says her daughter talked about it for days after because she was so excited.

Brittany was selected to be on the Homecoming Court. Her friends from the club stayed after school to assist her in making posters. They then told their friends – who were also nominated – they were voting for Brittany.

"These girls started campaigning for Brittany as did many others at the school," Nikki said. "There were even girls on the Homecoming Court who were telling people via social media to vote for her."

On October 6, Stuart Cramer selected Brittany as their Homecoming Queen.

"All I can say as a mother as this has been the most amazing thing ever," Nikki told me. "You hear about these stories but having it happen to your own daughter is beyond anything I could have imagined. Hearing the cheers for her in the crowd brought tears to not only my eyes, but many others."

She says in that moment the school lived up to the club name. It truly became unified.

The school's football manager, a friend of Brittany's, ran from the sideline and almost tackled her with a hug.

"That night I was reminded how fortunate my son is to have Brittany and the football manager as friends," Ann Payseur said. She is the mom who originally wrote to Molly. "And how great Stuart Cramer is for all kids."

She was reminded, she said, of hope in this younger generation and the importance of taking time with others who may seem different.

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