A new ‘mayor’ at school

From left, Prospect Elementary School special education teacher Llyce Cronk, school psychologist Laura Hall, third-grader Luke Laliberte, and school social worker Heather Goduti. Laliberte, who has Down syndrome, was honored Tuesday as mayor for the day. –CONTRIBUTED

PROSPECT — As part of World Down Syndrome Awareness Day on Tuesday, more than 500 students gathered in the gym at Prospect Elementary School to watch as Mayor Robert Chatfield appointed a third-grader with Down syndrome mayor for the day.

Nine-year-old Luke Laliberte’s teachers and peers at Prospect Elementary described the third-grader as helpful and happy

Prospect Elementary Assistant Principal Jeff Haddad said Laliberte is vibrant and endearing, and adds color to the school.

Haddad said the student council, which is made up of about 15 fourth- and fifth-graders, has a focused theme for the school year, which is understanding and accepting the differences among all people.

“We want the students to show empathy to each other and understand that everyone learns differently but everyone can learn,” Haddad said.

Chatfield said the room was filled with emotion when he read the proclamation and presented Laliberte with a certificate and folder, naming him mayor for the day.

“I told the kids to make sure that they address Luke as Mr. Mayor when they see him in the hallways because he’s in my chair today,” Chatfield said.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Laliberte said. “I really liked when all the kids called me Mr. Mayor.”

Haddad said the student council showed a brief video explaining what Down syndrome means to the student body. He added the video carried a message of accepting people for who they are and not what they have.

Glen Laliberte, Luke’s father, said it was truly an extraordinary day and a really good presentation done by the student council and Chatfield.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see the support of the school and the community,” Glen Laliberte said. “Luke is excelling and we’re very proud of him.”