MIAMI – They may be out of tune, but these best friends are not out of place.
Howard Rouse and Matthew Fernandez are in Best Buddies, a club at Southwest Miami High School that connects students with and without special needs.
Howard has Down Syndrome. Matthew has Howard, and high school hallways are always better with an ally.
"When you go into the cafeteria you see people with Down syndrome and disabilities sitting with jocks and cheerleaders," said Fernandez. "It's a beautiful sight."
The club's year end talent show packs the house. There's lots of singing and dancing, and even more love bouncing from the seats to the stage.
"You see the kids perform to the best of their abilities," said Principal Carlos Diaz. "What you really see is the human spirit rise. That's the beauty of the best buddies talent show."
Diaz estimates that of the 3,100 high school students at Southwest Miami High School, 16 percent of those are in ESE or exceptional student education. 120 kids volunteer to be in Best Buddies.
"Just because we're different, that doesn't define us," said Fernandez. "Disability doesn't define you, it's how you are as a person."