Jamie Roland, a junior at Hall High School in West Hartford, is being rewarded with membership into National Honor Society, but his journey to junior year has not been an easy one.
Roland has Down Syndrome. The family previously lived in Florida and his mother, Lisa, said she was told that a boy with Jamie's challenges didn't belong in a mainstream public school, so she home-schooled her son for several years before they moved to Connecticut in 2009.
"We came with a lot of baggage and we were very reticent about putting him in school," Lisa Roland said. "We didn't know how he was going to act or react to such a large environment."
In his three years at Hall High, Jamie has thrived both in and out of the classroom.
"The other students are nice, engaged and are fun to hang out with," the energetic 18-year-old said.
Lisa said they study together every night after school for at least four hours and that hard work has paid off.
Jamie's maintained a 3.6 grade point average and has been rewarded with membership into National Honor Society.
He's more similar than he is dissimilar to every child in the school, his mother said.
“He wants to be with friends. He wants to text them. He wants them to call. He wants to go out. He wants a girlfriend. He wants to go to the prom," Lisa said.
Jamie takes mostly co-taught classes with typical peers, like acting social studies and Modern American Literature and his teacher, Kim Hart-Kindelberger, said he regularly contributes in class.
"He interacts with the other students, hears their perspectives and they learn from each other, and that's very beneficial," Hart-Kindelberger said.
Lisa Roland said her son has cleared every hurdle that's stood in his way and Jamie said he feels great about what he's been able to achieve.
"I work hard in school. I'm very proud," he said.
Lisa points to the impact he makes in the hallways at Hall High.
"He's gonna change the world, one person at a time. He's a leader by being here, by being here and showing people what people with disabilities can do. We're incredibly proud of him," she said.