Victoria McKennon has already lived longer than many young people with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis, but at age 17 there is just one thing she wants to do right now — but her Plano, Texas, high school won’t let her do it.
All Victoria wants to do is walk on stage at her graduation with her friends.
The problem is, her condition — a disease which can cause severe respiratory and digestive symptoms, among other debilitating effects — has forced the otherwise hard-working student to spend so much time in hospitals or just absent from school that, with her long-awaited graduation day now just around the corner, Victoria remains a single credit shy of the 24 required in Texas for graduation.
She plans to make up that one, last class in summer school a few months away. But all she wants right now is to get up on that stage with her friends — after all she’s been through.
“I’ve had this entire ceremony thought of in mind, at the big place and all my friends walking on stage, and then after you get off, you’re like, ‘Whoa! I’m done with high school,'” she says, envisioning the moment she wants only to share with her classmates. “‘This is great!'”
But she feels the school is treating her as if she spent the past several years cutting class.
“My absences are excused,” the feisty teen points out. “But they don’t want me to walk the stage.”
Plano Senior High School says its hands are tied. No 24 credits, no graduation. Period.
The school has offered Victoria a separate ceremony later in the summer, but it’s not just about the diploma for her — graduation is an experience she’s worked hard to earn.
“I don’t know how long Victoria is going to live. Of course we always aim for the moon, the sky, and the stars, but in reality her life span is limited, and so every experience is very important for her,” her mom Grace McKennon said in a TV interview.
While many cystic fibrosis sufferers pass away in childhood, those who live to be adults now have an average life expectancy of 37 years.
After her story received a wave of publicity, the school offered her the chance to work overtime to get that last credit before June, when the Plano graduation is scheduled. But that plan won’t work if Victoria is forced back into the hospital, which could happen at any time with teenage cystic fibrosis patients.
The school still refuses to guarantee that Victoria will be allowed to take part in graduation, no matter what, which is what Victoria and her parents are asking. They say they have even filed a civil rights complaint, saying that the school is discriminating against the girl because of her dsability.
“I strive really hard to be a normal kid, and I want to be seen as a normal kid,” Victoria McKennon said. “That’s why graduation is important to me.”
[Image: YouTube Screen Grab]