LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A school created specifically to serve students with Down syndrome is sending its first students to middle school.
For the first time, Providence School is sending students to the sixth grade at CAL's English Station campus. And they're doing some teaching of their own.
Addison Page, a 13-year-old Providence School student, said his favorite class is robotics. But he admits it's not easy.
"We build a robot," he said.
Addison's love for robotics is matched by the love the other CAL students have for their friends from the Providence School program.
"Addison always tells the funniest jokes," student Sophie McNickle said. "He's so awesome, and Kate ... the conversation never gets boring."
Kate Voss, 14, told her friend Sophie to get ready for our interview.
Together, Kate and Addison take all the typical classes, with a slightly different curriculum and with the plan of staying at CAL all the way through graduation.
Kathi Winnenberg, an assistant at Providence School, said the goal is to break down barriers between those with and without Down syndrome.
"When it's time to do group work, everyone is included," Winnenberg said. "Everyone's input is included. And I just see a lot of love and a lot of welcoming here."
"We talk about respect and cooperation and working together, and it's just a show of compassion," said Jennifer Reger, a CAL computer and robotics teacher.
The interaction is having an impact outside of the classroom, making students more comfortable around people with Down syndrome.
"I actually feel I can go up to them and talk to them and understand what they're saying or what they are trying to tell me," student Zachary Anson said. "I'm not nervous when I'm around them, because I'm used to it. I see them, and I'm used to talking to them every single day."
"They're always in good moods," added Truman Langford, a CAL sixth-grader. "They're always smiling every time I walk into class. Addison always says hi to me, and it just makes me feel happy."
In the hallways, kids go out of their way to help Kate and Addison.
"Whenever I see them in the hall — just maybe if they're walking by their self — you just walk with them to their class," said Will Hitch, an eighth-grader. "I've always got extra time, and there's just, like, no reason why you shouldn't help them out."
Kate says Bible class is her favorite -- not robotics -- and when she's out of school, she likes to take ballet and swim.
We hope to be there to cover their High School graduation down the road -- and more kids in the Providence School program will be coming to CAL Middle School next year.
Zachary Anson, another student, says that when he sees Kate and Addison smile at the beginning of the school day, it takes all his stress away.
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