Soroco High School senior Clinton Koler graduates Saturday - culminating a high school career some doctors questioned when he was born with Down syndrome.
If you go
What: Soroco High School graduation
When: 11 a.m., preceded by Baccalaureate at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Gymnasium of Soroco High School, 305 S. Grant St. in Oak Creek
When Clinton Koler walks across the Soroco High School gymnasium stage Saturday, he'll accomplish something his mother was told wouldn't be possible.
Koler's mom, Stephanie Bratton, said when her son was born 19 years ago with Down syndrome, the doctors told her he'd be severely limited socially and intellectually.
Bratton wouldn't mind sharing a few choice words with those doctors. Koler will join his 26 senior classmates at 11 a.m. for the Class of 2009 graduation ceremony.
"I didn't expect him to get to this point," she said. "When he was born, we were told he'd be a happy baby, but he wouldn't go very far.
"There's nothing Clinton can't do. The things he wants to do, he can achieve."
And there are very few people in South Routt County who don't know him, said Soroco High School paraprofessional Jane Miles, who's worked with Koler for the past seven years.
Miles said wherever they go, people know Koler and are drawn to him.
Maybe that's because he swam and ran track in the Special Olympics and skied since the third grade. Or because he was active at Soroco last year as manager for the boys basketball team, a member of the recycling program "Green Team," and a part of the honor court at the homecoming and prom dances. He's also active in Routt County 4-H and the Routt County Fair, showing sheep and horses.
"He does it all," she said, adding that Koler also is an avid painter, cooks and loves to dance. "He really gets involved."
And it's about much more than people just knowing Koler. Miles said they all love him. Everyone is his friend.
"This whole community, since the day he was born, has been right by my family's side," Bratton said. "The whole community just came together."
Miles said Koler has overcome some significant challenges through the years, including his communication, math and reading skills. Koler will continue working with Miles at the high school a couple of days a week next year. Miles said she hopes to continue the development of his life skills so, eventually, he'll be able to work.
"He just needs instruction," she said. "Once he gets the system down, he's really quite good at it."
But until then, Koler is just getting ready for this weekend. Some family members are visiting for the ceremony. And he's having a party afterward, something Bratton said he's really excited about.
"It's going to be a big weekend for us," Koler said.
Soroco Principal Dennis Alt said the ceremony will begin with the processional and welcome. Superintendent Scott Mader will introduce the salutatorian, Tracy Schlegel, and the valedictorian, Kimberly Rossi. The senior class will present the Booster Club its gift. English teacher Sam McLeod will give a speech before diploma presentations.
Koler will be joined in his jaunt across the stage by Tatum Lombardi, one of his best friends in a group he's known since the first grade that includes Sarajane and Kimberly Rossi.
The graduation ceremony will be preceded by Baccalaureate, at 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Soroco gymnasium. The event is sponsored by area churches, said Tom Harves, pastor at South Routt Bible Church. He said some members of a local ministry group called PAIS will speak at an optional event not affiliated with the high school.