North Carroll grad leaves school with message of tolerance

At North Carroll High School, Danny Ferguson is known for his kindness, friendliness and tireless work to support unity among his classmates. On Friday, Ferguson gave a speech at the farewell assembly for the Class of 2015 about tolerance, a topic, Ferguson said, that is close to his heart.

"Tolerance helps us learn about people's differences and benefits for society," Ferguson said. "I'm autistic, and a lot of people at school understand me and see my abilities. The speech is coming from experience, and what I want to leave the school with in the future."


The 177 students of the Class of 2015 graduated Sunday evening. Throughout his years at North Carroll, Ferguson has been involved in the Stand-Up Club focused on defending people against bullying and helping make the school a better place. His mother Dawn Ferguson said she was proud that the school chose Danny to give the speech.

"It's his way to leave his mark on the class," she said. "[He gave] the last words in front of the whole school. It's great for him."

One of Ferguson's strongest passions at North Carroll was his participation in the drama club. During his sophomore year, he performed in the school's production of "Grease," launching a love of theater that would last through his high school career.

"I just wanted to be a part of an organization and also have the best of friends I could be with and just have a great experience," Ferguson said. "It was great to participate in the rehearsals and the choreography. There was camaraderie and a lot of fun and excitement."

Throughout his three years in the drama department, Ferguson acted in or worked on the stage crew for "You Can't Take it With You," "Les Miserables," "Oliver," "Twelfth Night" and "The Music Man."

Drama teacher Roberta Gore described Ferguson as a treasure who gives 1,000 percent to any project he undertakes.

"He would never intentionally let a person down," Gore said. "He pays attention and he cares. It's just characteristic of who he is. He is joyful and earnest, and a gentleman. He is such a gentleman. He is a very, very rare friend. His friends mean everything to him, and he's got this enormous smile."

Following graduation, Ferguson is going to attend Carroll Community College and study math, while continuing to work at Safeway. He said one day, he wants to become a special education specialist to help other students learn math. Dawn Ferguson said her son is looking forward to attending the community college.

"He's been working as an assistant in the special ed class at school, and it was through working with those kids that he really discovered he wants to be a teacher," she said. "It's beautiful, really. The student becomes the teacher."

Dawn said Danny has been participating in the Special Olympics since he was 8, having competed in swimming, golf and power lifting. Ferguson said one of his favorite things was competing on the school's cross-country team. In addition to school, sports and extracurricular activities, he volunteers at Life Point Church in Upperco.

Dawn said she can't believe how supportive the North Carroll community has been to her son, and she is glad to see his kindness repaid.

"He wants to be a friend to everybody. He perseveres, even though it's sometimes been a rough road," she said. "The students have been so wonderful in including him and seeing his abilities, not his disability."



North Carroll High School Class of 2015

Number of graduates: 177

52 percent will attend 4-year school, 32 percent will attend 2-year school, 3 percent trade school, 10 percent will go into the workforce, 3 percent will go into the military