Senior Sara Pietig gets involved after transferring schools midsemester and having mosaic Down syndrome
After moving to Shawnee two years ago, Sara overcame difficulties that came with mosaic Down syndrome by joining school organizations
October 16, 2015
“[Mill Valley] was a little different,” Sara said. “I wasn’t comfortable because it was hard. I felt sad because we were moving.”
Sara’s mother, Kristie Pietig, said the decision to leave Minnesota was an ongoing family discussion for two years. They would move back to Kristie’s hometown, Kansas City, to be close to family, and her work would make travel adjustments.
Kristie said Sara reacted well to the news that they were moving to Shawnee.
“Moving back made it a little easier because we had family here and I grew up here. She is such a resilient girl,” Kristie said. “She is pretty flexible.”
At the beginning of her sophomore year, Sara felt settled in Minnesota. She was comfortable with her friends, in her school and competing in Special Olympics.
“When I was getting ready for my sophomore year, I was settled, and my mom [said] we were moving,” Sara said. “I’m like, ‘I’m gonna miss friends,’ but [my mom said], ‘You can come back and visit.’”
Sara has mosaic Down syndrome, which means only some of her cells are affected by an extra chromosome but this hasn’t kept her from her from extracurriculars. After adjusting to her new environment, Sara started getting involved. She became a part of the girls swim team, MV Outreach and Club 121. Outside of school she joined Special Olympics and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City and got a job at a coffee shop.
Encouragement from her family, teachers and other students helped Sara branch out.
“Mill Valley has a whole team [of supporters] from Mrs. Long, Mrs. Appl, Mrs. Evans, the ladies in the office and the swim team,” Kristie said. “The whole swim team went to prom together, which was really special.”
Senior Lilly Lutz met Sara at a class cup party during the first semester of their sophomore year. Lily inviting Sara to sit with her that day led to Sara joining the swim team.
“We would hang out at swim and at swim meets. Her mom would always talk to me at swim practice or like the swim meets at the end asking how she was doing,” Lutz said. “It was kind of gradual. Our friendship just got a lot stronger.”
Although her mosaic Down syndrome has not kept Sara from being a social butterfly, she still faces obstacles.
“I think [mosaic Down syndrome] has affected her vulnerability. She doesn’t have the same opportunities as other seniors,” Kristie said. “She doesn’t have a car like most seniors, and I’m not sure if she’ll ever be able to drive until self-driving cars.”
Lutz said that swimming with Sara is one of her favorite things she has done so far in high school.
“Sara is one of my best friends, and, when I look back on high school, she’ll be one of the best memories. I have gotten to know her and her family, swim with her, get ready for prom, go to prom and go prom dress shopping,” Lutz said. “You only get to do those things twice, and it was really awesome that I got to do them with her and some other friends.”