October 19, 2018 10:16:08 AM
A couple of years ago, the Southeastern Conference adopted an new slogan for its marketing campaign: "It just means more."
With all due respect to the SEC, you could make an argument that Starkville High School has embraced that idea with an authenticity and depth of feeling that goes far beyond a catchy slogan.
Tonight is Homecoming at Starkville High School which means, among other things, that the school will present its Homecoming royalty to mark the occasion.
There is nothing novel about that, of course. In the South, selecting students to serve on the Homecoming Court has been going on for ages. Every year, the handsomest/prettiest, most talented, most popular kids are singled out for the distinction. For those students, it's often just the latest honor they'll receive. Society has a way of celebrating the exceptional and they rarely lack for attention and acclaim.
But this year, the student body at Starkville High School deviated from that predictable path.
Tonight, Owen Hardin reigns as Homecoming King.
Hardin is an unconventional choice. He is not the star athlete. He's not at the top of his class academically.
The thing that most distinguishes him from his peers is, in fact, his greatest challenge.
Hardin has Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder that limits a person's mental development. The typical adult with Down Syndrome has an IQ of 50.
Those with Down Syndrome are easy to ignore, but that has never been the case with Hardin. For all he may lack, he has consistently demonstrated two qualities that command admiration: Courage and an indomitable spirit.
For Down Syndrome children, few things come easy. Life can be confusing, frightening, even lonely.
But it is not so with Owen Hardin, who has long been known among his classmates for his outgoing personality and positive attitude.
We are pleased that the students at Starkville High School chose recognize these remarkable traits in selecting Hardin as their Homecoming King. It reflects well on the students.
It is rare that Down Syndrome kids are singled out for anything pleasant. For that reason, there likely has never been any Homecoming King for whom the honor is more appreciated than it is for Owen Hardin.
Truly, it just means more.