Maddie Haag is not only a special needs student, she is special.
Maddie, who has Down syndrome, was chosen Ms Amazing at Airport High School’s Miss Aquila pageant. And she finished First Runner Up in last year’s AHS Homecoming Queen voting.
Friday, Maddie received a scholarship from the Cayce-West Columbia Lions Club. She is enrolling at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, in the Think College Program. It offers post-secondary education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities.
“It’s a two-year program and she will take 12 credit hours,” said Debbie Haag, Maddie’s mother. Her classes will include independent living skills and she will take regular classes. School does not intimidate Maddie.
“I love school,” Maddie said. And she said she is looking forward to going to Winthrop. There, she will live in a dorm. Her roommate’s name is Amber.
Her mother said Maddie “makes friends easily” and she is eager for social opportunities. Maddie rises early each morning, and gets ready for school every day and gets out in time to catch the school bus. “She’s self-sufficient,” said her mother.
“We were very impressed with Maddie’s enthusiasm,” said C-WC Lions Club Member Bill Mooneyhan. He, with Gregg Turner and Roger Kinard, interviewed Maddie for the Lions Club scholarship.
“She has a great attitude and seeing her excitement for life when we talked to her, brought tears to our eyes,” said Mooneyhan. “She is full of energy and Maddie will be a valuable, and contributing member of the community. I have no doubt about that.”
The Winthrop Think College Program creates customized schedules for each student and includes specialty courses to support student development of specific skill sets. The focus of the program is to build and strengthen skills in the areas of employment, self-determination, health and nutrition, social networking, and independent living. The mission is to prepare students for competitive employment and active participation in local communities with as much independence as possible.