Girl battling rare disorder allowed to walk at graduation

Dartmouth High School senior Ashlyn Conde rejoices when she hears she'll be able to walk at graduation.

DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — A near-fatal allergic reaction and a diagnosis of a rare disorder forced Dartmouth High School senior Ashlyn Conde to miss her last semester of school, but she’s being allowed to walk across the stage this weekend thanks to the efforts of her classmates.

The 17-year-old was elated when she received a call Friday from Superintendent Ana Riley, informing her that she’d be able to participate in the graduation ceremony.

“It’s just going to be so amazing,” said Conde. “The one thing I’ve been waiting for.”

After she had a bad reaction to Motrin in April, Conde nearly died and was hospitalized for 28 days. She was also diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a disorder of the skin and mucus membranes.

“I don’t remember anything, I was in and out,” she said. “I was in an induced coma for four days and they thought I wasn’t going to wake up.”

The school department told her she wouldn’t be able to walk because she was four credits short of the 28 needed to graduate.

After nearly losing their daughter, Conde’s parents were devastated by the news.

“I couldn’t believe that this was happening, and for her to fight for her life, and now for this to happen with the school, this is just another battle,” said her father, Jerry. “All she wants to do is walk with her classmates.”

Conde’s classmates rallied around her on Thursday by circulating a petition, putting up posters around the school, and starting a campaign online.

At first the efforts went unheeded and the administration stood by the graduation policy, but the school department decided to go against policy and allow her to walk. Conde will have to finish earning her diploma in summer school, but right now she’s just concentrating on taking part in Sunday’s ceremony.

“Oh my God I cannot wait. I cannot wait to cross that stage,” she said through tears.

Riley told us the school department’s current graduation policy is too black and white, and they plan to meet in the coming weeks to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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