The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
[email protected] 

Madison Essig will Make History Next Spring as the First-Ever Student with Down Syndrome to Graduate with a Standard Diploma from DC Public Schools

Washington, DC- In a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the White House and the U.S. Department of Education will be hosting a special event at the White House on Tuesday, November 17th.

Madison Essig, an NDSS DS-Ambassador from Washington, DC, and a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, will make history next spring as the first student with Down syndrome to graduate with a standard diploma from Wilson. Madison, along with her mother and NDSS Vice Chair, Kimberly Templeton, and her former history teacher, Eden McCauslin, will speak about the importance of IDEA at the White House.

The landmark IDEA continues to pave the way for students with disabilities to be included in general education classrooms at local, neighborhood schools with greater frequency and effectiveness than ever before. IDEA entitles all children with disabilities to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) with the goal of meeting unique needs and to prepare students for further education, employment and independent living.

“I am going to graduate with a standard diploma because IDEA made it possible for me to be included in my neighborhood schools and take regular classes with support,” said Essig. Essig was inducted into the National Honor Society this fall and recently took the SAT.

During the 40th Anniversary celebration, there will be guest speakers from both the Administration and U.S. Department of Education. “IDEA and inclusion, coupled with Madison’s work ethic and self-motivation, has enabled her to achieve significant academic success. Madison is well prepared for the next chapter in her life, college, because of IDEA’s underlying principle that all students have the right to reach their full, individual potential,” said Templeton. 

“People with Down syndrome are living longer, healthier, productive lives, attending postsecondary programs, getting married, obtaining gainful employment, and are more integrated into the fabric of society than ever before,” said NDSS President Sara Hart Weir. “NDSS firmly believes that students with Down syndrome deserve the right to be educated in their local schools, with their siblings and peers. As we celebrate 40 years of this civil rights law, we are reminded the fight is not over -- every school should be able to accommodate a student with Down syndrome or another disability in the classroom.”

  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors