Scheeler’s memory sparks conversation about inclusion

Sophia Johnson | Staff Writer

Junior Mary Scheeler continues to inspire people to come together following her passing in late September after a bike accident. 

Scheeler showed love to all she came into contact with. Junior Austin Hance said one of the many ways she demonstrated this was in the hallways, using the four minutes to get to class as an opportunity to interact with other students.

“I met her in sixth grade. I saw her around the hallway and I started talking to her all the time,” Hance said. “The day that she passed away, it was heartbreaking for people that knew her because her smile was all affection. People cared about her and people made friends with her because they saw such a positive kid walking around in the hallway.”

In October, a few students who were friends with Scheeler announced that they were going to sell bracelets in her honor. Junior Liberty Messer said she intends for the bracelets to encourage everyone to spread love the way Scheeler did.

“The bracelets say ‘a sweet friendship refreshes the soul’,” Messer said. “That was chosen for the reason that Mary’s friendship was sweet and joyous. It was one that took little effort because it was so easy with her. Her friendship was refreshing to the soul. So I hope that everyone wearing them lives out her mission to love and bring others joy.”

Students who ordered the bracelets for Scheeler will be receiving them in November. Science teacher Mike Planicka, one of Scheeler’s teachers, said continuing to remember Scheeler will be a way to promote the importance of prioritizing positive and healthy living.

“Students that knew Mary will always remember her and her shining smile,” Planicka said. “But the ones that don’t can just be reminded when having a bad day, or when thinking life is tough or that your biology exam is going to be hard, just look at that bracelet and take a moment to let it pass. It’s saying ‘What would Mary do in this situation? Would she smile about things or would she get stressed out?’ and Mary was rarely stressed out about things.”

Sophomore Grace Bagadiong said everyone would have benefited from knowing Scheeler and seeing how her down syndrome didn’t stop her from interacting with others. As someone who has a disability, Bagadiong said nobody should ever let someone’s disability or difference stop them from making an effort to know others.

“She was always that shining light that everyone needed,” Bagadiong said. “Being friends with people no matter who they are is important in everyday life. You never know what these people have in their background until you meet them. It’s a positive thing to do when interacting with others, including those who have a disability.”

Bagadiong said the lack of relationships many have with disabled students is very apparent. By having differences, she said people feel there is a reason to not communicate with them.

“There is a separation between typical people and disabled people-typical people are not positive if they should be around those with disabilities,” Bagadiong said. “They may see unfamiliar things, but the disabled people have more than just their disabilities. They have the same thoughts everyone else has, same interests, and they actually live a normal life.”

 

(From left) Mary Scheeler, Casey Kahl, Joey Kelsey, Ally Long, Kaitlyn Olsen, David Fleming, Ella Vasconcellos, Clay Woodruff, Kamryn Jones, Olivia Curry, Evan Bastian, Thomas Trujillo, Ally Huber, Wynne Dupre, Ellen Hilbert, Claire Long, James Martin, Chris Courtney, Chris Barger, Jacob Reynolds, and Bella Jones interacted together daily in their career educational opportunities class.

 

Grateful for getting to witness Scheeler’s unapologetic character, Planicka said he wishes to see more students create relationships with those they don’t usually talk to.

“By making friends with her I think students really got a lot more out of the relationship than Mary did,” Planicka said. “Mary didn’t really necessarily need people dancing with her, she was going to dance anyway, but I know the kids that did dance with her, they will forever remember her. So reach out to other kids in your class, they could be the thing that really affects your life. I think Mary teaches us that everybody should be friends with everybody. I would like to see kids do that a little bit more.”

Scheeler has taught people to connect with others, regardless of who they are. Bagadiong said she hopes to see this inclusion continued by people interacting with everyone, and not what they are labeled as.

“The change I will like to see is the opportunity where typical people socialize easily with others, no matter who they are,” Bagadiong said. “Some people think I have a cognitive disability, but I only have a physical disability. I can work educationally, do social activities, and live a normal life. People have to realize they need to accept disabled people because we are all equal. You never know who people are until you learn about their lives.”