Intellectually Disable Girl Kayla Fillinger Will Graduate From Windham High School

by Peter Barnes
Windham high school

Kayla Fillinger is a very cute girl who grew up as a middle child between two brothers. She has lived in Windham all her life and her parents diagnosed her with a intellectual illness when she was 5 years old. However, Kayla’s parents raised her as an intelligent and well-groomed girl.

Her older brother, Fred Fillinger, says his sister is a “talkative and funny” character. Kyla’s mother, Elizabeth Fillinger, says, “She’s a young woman who loves animals and likes to spend time outdoors with people.”

During the summer and especially winter months, Kayla spends weekends and vacations at her family camp on Mars Hill in Maine. The brothers and sisters enjoyed swimming and tubing in the summer on Little Sebago Lake as children. Also, Kayla demonstrated skill in riding RZRs on snow. As Kayla grows older, their mother says, Fred worked diligently to add great value to his sister’s ambition.

Her mother Elizabeth explains. 

“She can ride a four-wheeled snowmobile better and faster than me,” she said. “We do not allow any part of her disability to influence her to try something.”  Kayla smiles and shrugs, “A little faster,” she says.

Fred is proud of his sister’s versatility on the toys. “I enjoy when we get to go for snowmobile rides up North,” he says. “She always makes it a fun time.” Her siblings are proud of Kayla’s flexibility in these toys. “I’m especially happy to go snowmobiling with her because she always makes it a fun time” he says.

Grooming at Windham High School

Windham high school
Photo – whs.rsu14.org

Her mother says RSU 14 Windham / Raymond School District has greatly helped her daughter to build her future. During the period of Kayla’s schooling, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was developed, which ensures that she receives specific counseling and related services.

“Kayla’s mentors have been very supportive, giving her a lot of advice on many occasions,” she says. So, when those things happened that way, we felt that they were always waiting for her good. And more importantly, as Kayla’s mother, if I bring anything to their attention, they are open and responsive.

Kayla’s mother believes her school is excellent and has no complaints. When Kayla’s high school education began, Kayla was passionate about adventure. Remembering Kayla’s high school start, Elizabeth smiles now.

Now, Elizabeth is happy with what her daughter is learning in Windham high school. “Kayla was very excited,” mother said. Kayla says she was most looking forward to having fun with her friends. Kayla, now a senior at Windham High School, talks about her school day. There she learned how to make steak and cheese and buffalo chicken sandwiches.

Kayla is currently under the program on a life skill and it’s really good because she still has her academics there, she explains. In her classroom, they having washing machine and she taught to do works on it. Other than that, classmates were cooked together in classroom. In here Positive Approach to Student Success (PASS) is a comprehensive, multilevel special education program and yes of course, now she is going to pass it.

Kayla says she loves meeting her friends during school hours and cycling in exercise class. She says she attends it whenever she can get out of school and be happy. She also says with great respect that her life skills teacher Mr. McNeill is very supportive of her in such activities during the time of Windham High school.

Kayla’s extra curriculars include playing for Windham High School’s Unified Basketball team. Unified basketball joins students with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, fostering inclusion and promoting understanding through sports. Kayla has only had the chance to play one season on the team due to the pandemic canceling team sports her sophomore and junior year. 

The activities at Windham High School are truly unique. They have a special interest in children like Kayla and include their extracurricular activities in playing for the Windham high School’s Unified Basketball team. Kayla is also a member of it. According to the school, integrated basketball brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities, nurtures them and promotes understanding through the sport. Because of the Covid 19 epidemic situation, Kyla has only had one chance to play for the team. But Kayla plans to play her senior year.

Kayla’s mother says that her friends like her a lot. They are the ones who fix Kayla’s hair before playing a match. Elizabeth said. “As long as they have it,” Elizabeth says, “she’ll do it again.” Elizabeth appreciates the combined team and the players. “I have found that they have made friendships and relationships with these students and they are amazing,” she says. Kayla talks to many friends outside of school as well as whenever she runs up to them, or Instagram / Snapchat with her. “I’m really happy to see my baby being treated normally,” she said.

Windham High School Special Olympics

Kayla has also competed in the Windham High School Special Olympics team. The Special Olympics is a global organization and it aims to promote social inclusion at the high school level, through shared sports training and competitive experience. In Windham, before the special Olympics, teams across the country get train well. From her childhood, Kayla has competed in various events of Windham high school Special Olympics. “She has participated in swimming and running,” Elizabeth said.

I ask my little girl what she will do when she leaves school. Then she says she’s working at a McDonald’s restaurant someday. Elizabeth laughs and says that Kayla loves to eat fries and  she’s not going to eat that way at McDonald’s. “No,” Kayla answers happily. “Maybe during the break?” Her thoughts are very innocent and I like them very much. She’s not hurting anyone. Elizabeth said.

By the end of the Windham high school senior year, Kayla is looking forward to graduation and for that she has already chosen the maroon color as her favorite color for her hat and gown, says her mother.

Elizabeth is currently researching Kayla’s ability to join adult programs such as REACH after graduation.

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Reference: Eagle News

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