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Special-needs teens win Oyster Bay homecoming crowns

Oyster Bay High School homecoming king and queen

Oyster Bay High School homecoming king and queen Nicholas Viscovich and Megan Keffer, left, greet the crowd along with other members of the homecoming court during a pep rally on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Credit: Ian J. Stark

Nicholas Viscovich and Megan Keffer knew they were going to be named homecoming king and queen before Friday’s pep rally at Oyster Bay High School.

But that didn’t make their crowning any less special for them or their classmates, who wanted to create a memorable moment for Nick, who was born with Down syndrome, and Megan, who has autism.

It wasn’t a surprise to Oyster Bay principal Sharon Lasher, who explained that many of the school’s students are already frequent contributors to voluntary programs that bring Oyster Bay students together with special-needs students.

“We have a lot of great kids, and they want to help,” Lasher said. “...Voting Nick and Megan king and queen, that was their idea.”

The vote happened during the week, and unlike an average king-and-queen crowning where people find out they won at the pep rally, Lasher called Nick and Megan’s parents so they could prepare the teens for the big moment.

“When the school called and told us, we were shocked,” Nick’s mom Donna Viscovich said. “We were speechless.”

As Megan’s mom Julie Keffer explained, “Megan doesn’t really like big crowds or loud noises.”

Both sets of parents -- Julie and Mike Keffer, and Donna and Bobby Viscovich, who were there for the pep rally -- helped rehearse with their kids, with Megan also receiving assistance from teacher Kerri Higgins, who stayed with her for the crowning to help ward off nervousness.

Sure enough, during the rally in the school gymnasium, the crowd roared, and Nick went out first when called to claim his crowd. He pumped his fist and grinned with no problem. Then Megan calmly walked to the center of the gym, smiling and seemingly enjoying her moment in the spotlight.

“I wasn’t sure how much Megan understood about what she’d won,” Julie Keffer said before the pep rally. “But when we went shopping she told me she wanted a dress for a queen, so she has an idea.”

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