Pomp and circumstance, it’s the song every high school student waits to hear. And in the case of Curtis Smith, he’s no different than his classmates, though his circumstances may be.
Diagnosed around age 4 with autism, Curtis’ mom, Dana, said he’s overcome all odds to get a diploma.
“To go from a kid that wasn’t supposed to be able to hold a pencil or ride a bike, that wasn’t supposed to be mainstreamed, that wasn’t supposed to be diploma-tracked, with the help of Irmo High School and Wilkerson and Oswalt and Dave Riegel, this kid’s about to graduate high school,” she said.
It’s not often you hear a parent credit school resource officers for helping their child graduate, but Curtis’ relationship with Len Wilkerson and Robbie Oswalt is unique.
Their friendship began in middle school before Curtis went on to Irmo High. When Wilkerson and Oswalt also moved to the high school, they picked up where they left off.
“I hadn’t seen them for a long time and they were surprised when they saw me for the first time as I had lost a lot of weight,” Curtis said.
Dana said, over the years, the two became male role models for her son.
“They made me feel like I could look up to them and they made me feel a lot safer,” he said.
Curtis may no longer speed-walk the halls as a Yellow Jacket, but his mother hopes future students will continue to learn the lesson of what a school resource officer truly is.
“They’re teaching a child. As long as you’re teaching them something, that’s the important part. It doesn’t matter if they’re wearing a uniform or a suit and tie, that person is a teacher.” Dana said. “I honestly think he wouldn’t be as successful as he is today without those gentleman.”