A high school graduation video went viral after students offered a ‘silent ovation’ to an autistic classmate with severe sound sensitivity.
The heart-warming clip shows New York’s Carmel High School graduates standing in silence as student Jack Higgins received his diploma.
In the emotional moment, Higgins is seen with his fingers in his ears after ‘preempting loud commotion and cheers’ while being accompanied on stage by his brothers.
Yet, in a show of respect, his class of 2019 peers muted their applause in favour of silent claps and quiet cheers.
The school has been widely praised for its ‘empathetic treatment’ of Higgins, whose severe autism increases his sensitivity to noise.
Prior to the ‘much-loved’ teenager being presented with his diploma, Carmel High’s principal, Lou Riolo, requested the auditorium to hold their applause, reports the MailOnline.
‘The students are amazing,’ Riola said to CNN:
They are a class act and superseded expectations. For example them rising to their feet after Jack received his diploma was them. It was not preplanned and no one told them to act like that that. They felt compelled to show their support in that way. They made that amazing compassionate gesture on their own.
The proud principal reported his surprise that his students didn’t clap, but also stood in silence.
You often have to give people the opportunity to rise to an occasion. I truly believe people have a kind, compassionate soul and they want to help and this was one of those occasions.
The video, which has more than 100,000 views on YouTube, has attracted hundreds of comments praising the students.
One wrote: ‘As the parent of an autistic child, this makes me cry. Such a great group of kids. Congratulations to the class of 2019’.
‘That was beautiful. What an amazing display of respect. Well done, Class of 2019,’ said another.
Those who attended the 2019 ceremony also spoke highly of the students, writing:
I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to cry….but when his class stood…the flood gates opened. Congrats Jack and Carmel High Class of 2019. This is the America that I know and love.
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L’Oréal Blackett is a freelance journalist, broadcaster, and presenter with a lot of hair and a lot to say. A former digital magazine editor covering women’s issues and local news, she now works for a range of media publications including BBC Radio Manchester, Bumble and of course, UNILAD.