Inclusion for Buddee at Mount Carmel Area

image of several student athletes, one of which is in a wheelchair
  • IU16 - Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit
    Mount Carmel Area SD

    , PA

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Published in “The News Item” in Shamokin on November 26, 2009,
Editor’s note: The following letter to the editor is from the family of Buddee (Mark) Melro.

We are writing to inform the public about things that have been occurring at Mount Carmel Area (MCA) High School and to express our gratitude to all of the people involved in the inclusion of Buddee (Mark) Merlo Jr. We have been moved beyond words by the actions of people and students in our community.This year’s Veterans Day program was a big deal for Buddee. He is now a student in Sharon Styer’s chorus class, thanks to the inclusion program, and he was finally, finally, up on that stage in the auditorium at the high school, for the very first time in his entire life. We couldn’t see him very well, just parts of his silky black hair and red chorus robe, but we knew he was there, sandwiched between the high school band and the chorus.Knowing Buddee was up on that stage, against all odds, with the help of so many people, caused our hearts to swell and our eyes to fill with tears. You see, Buddee is an 18 year old survivor of Shaken Baby Syndrome. He is also a wheelchair bound, severely disabled student.That’s not all, Buddee goes to homeroom every day and will soon be starting band class. On Nov. 6, cheerleaders pushed Buddee through the school to sell spirit pins; football players wheeled him into the pep rally; he proudly paraded through the streets of Mount Carmel among cheerleaders and colorguard, and watched the game on the field with his stepdad. It was the one of the best days of his life.All of the tasks require a lot of work. Even saying hello to Buddee is not as easy as a smile of acknowledgement. Because he cannot see, you have to touch Buddee’s arm and lean into his ear and say hi; most of the time he doesn’t even smile back. This doesn’t stop student’s from saying hello, and it is all of the hellos that show this biggest improvement.What the student’s do not see is when Buddee comes home and he giggles and giggles and giggles, and we ask him if some students talked to him today, and he giggles and giggles and giggles. That is when we know, without a doubt, that this scary thing called inclusion at MCA is definitely working.To every student, to the teachers and staff, to friends and family and neighbors, to his caseworkers and to everyone involved in Buddee’s care we say thank you, and please keep the encouragement coming. His next performance will be on that same stage in December, and we will be bringing our tissues.Thank you.Buddee Merlo, Stancavage, Keretski and Trent families