Dan River HS Students Rally Behind Student With Down Syndrome for Homecoming

Pittsylvania Co., VA - Dan River High School celebrated homecoming in a big way this year by crowning one of their most loved students as king.

PJ Patterson took the crown after receiving the most votes.

PJ has Down syndrome, but his classmates say his bright smile and warm heart made him the clear choice this year.

"Everyone loves PJ here. He'll speak to you, he'll just wave at you. He smiles all the time, " said senior Terrell Edmunds.

Edmunds is one of the students that got PJ's name added to the ballot. He heard several students say they wanted to rally behind PJ, and as Student Council Association president, he wanted to make it happen.

"When they called his name out, the way he just smiled so hard and started clapping his hands. It was a magnificent moment, " he said.
PJ spends part of the week learning job skills at the Hatcher Center in Blairs.
The staff there says, while he doesn't talk much, his big smile says it all.
"I think it's a great opportunity. Just the fact of an ego boost and some bragging rights. I think PJ is very happy about it as well, " said case worker Paula Booth.
Teachers at Dan River say this is just an example of the kind of students they have.SCA sponsor Jessica Dalton says PJ was very deserving of the title and she's glad the other kids recognized that.
"Typically teenagers have a bad reputation, so to have them actually come forward with this. That's something that he will always remember for the rest of his life and that's something that I will always remember as a teacher here, " said teacher Jessica Dalton.
"Everyone at Dan River has a heart. Everyone is not just looking at the most popular person. They're looking at the person that it might mean the most to, " Edmunds said.