Earlier this school year, Elizabeth Rice, 12, stood up in her James Madison Middle School classroom to present a project on a planet.

Elizabeth has Down syndrome, and because “different little things” like shyness and certain loud noises can make it more difficult for her to complete an activity like a class presentation, her teachers weren’t sure what to expect, said her mom, Melanie Rice.

Elizabeth recited all the information, making her teachers and mom proud. Her confidence, communication skills and feeling of acceptance were all boosted from that single assignment, Rice said.

That moment was only possible because Elizabeth spends the majority of the school day in an inclusive classroom, Rice said, where students with and without disabilities learn together. But moments like that

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