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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  K-12 education

Lakeland High School: Special education senior Colin Kelley showcases independence, talents all with a smile on his face

June 5, 2022 Updated Tue., June 7, 2022 at 5:07 p.m.

Colin Kelley of Lakeland High School was voted Homecoming king last fall.
Colin Kelley of Lakeland High School was voted Homecoming king last fall.
By Stefanie Pettit For The Spokesman-Review

If anyone would like to meet a student who always has a smile on his face and knows how to bring joy, it’s Colin Kelley of Lakeland High School in Rathdrum.

“I have never seen Colin Kelley grumpy,” said Deana Lange, special education teacher and counselor at Lakeland. “I’ve seen him tired sometimes, but that’s because he’s so busy.”

Kelley, 19, has Down syndrome. He is caught up in everything that goes on in school, including being a running back on the varsity football team. When he isn’t on the field, he’s the one on the bench cheering the loudest for his teammates.

He even lost his voice once after a recent cheer competition at school.

His classmates voted him Homecoming king last fall, and he was crowned on the field at the football game while wearing his football uniform.

“My friends said it was awesome,” Kelley said.

He also pointed out Lakeland defeated their competitors in the Homecoming game. He said the game was “the best thing in the entire world.”

Kelley loves PE class, football and wrestling. He does weight training and also participates in track, running the 100-meter race and throwing shotput.

After all that, he leaves time for video games with friends and guitar and drums as well. Kelley was gifted a drum set when he was 12 and said he is self-taught. Plus, he can rattle off the names of his favorite country singers.

“He is so very well-liked at school,” his teacher said, noting that a group of students he’s gone to school with since grade school are his good buddies who look out for him and do things together with him, “making sure that Colin gets to be included in everything.”

Kelley said boys named Devon, Tommy, Jackson and Blake are some of these good friends. As an example of how they include them, he goes along with one of them to his job at the farm of another boy’s father, where they load hay together. Sometimes he goes clothes shopping with a pal. Sometimes it’s fishing or riding bikes at Twin Lakes.

He is one of the guys, which is always what he’s wanted to be.

“At school he’s treated like every other student,” Lange said. “He’s independent, and all his teachers love having him in in class. He likes being the funny guy, but I can’t say that he always likes math.

“What I can say is that he likes to be that kid who pleases the teacher.”

And he does it with a smile. Even when it’s time for math.

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