Neighbors and schoolmates, Chloe McKeever and Connor Stevenson were name Jordan Valley queen and king Dec. 4. Photo courtesy of Nevah Stevenson
Every day for more than 10 years, next-door Draper neighbors Connor Stevenson and Chloe McKeever have boarded a school bus that takes them to Jordan Valley School. Chloe claps as Connor boards the bus, and he talks about his neighbor and friend. The two recently were crowned homecoming king and queen, a fitting end to the years they’ve attended the same school together, teachers say.
“He’s pretty charming, gregarious and funny, while she is very affectionate and darling,” Michelle Stark, a Jordan Valley teacher, said. “They’re neighbors, and we’ve grown close to both of them. The halls of the school will miss them when they graduate.”
Jordan Valley students have severe multiple disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders, communication impairments, genetic disorders and syndromes, deaf–blindness and students who are extremely medically fragile. The goal at Jordan Valley is to improve students’ quality of life, as well as their families.’
Jordan Valley strives to offer some of the same events that other schools do in Canyons School District. For the past several years, they’ve offered a spring musical. In December, for more than 30 years, they have held a homecoming dance for current students, alumni, staff and faculty and families.
“We decided to invite all those who graduated to attend the first dance because many of them have spent 20 years at the school,” former principal John Gardner said. “It’s really fun to see their faces light up when they come back and recognize their school and some of the faculty and staff.”
Connor and Chloe learned before the Dec. 4 dance that they were to be crowned so their families would be in attendance.
“Connor said, ‘I’m going to be the king,’ and I’m not sure what he meant by that,” Connor’s mother, Nevah Stevenson said. “So I asked him, and he said ‘I’m going to be the king of the dance, and Chloe is going to be queen.’”
Connor, who has the rare Koolen-de Vries syndrome, can speak and reason, but functions at a 4-year-old level, his mother said.
Still, don’t count him out, teacher Gary Ren said.
“He’s very smart and when he focuses, he learns about anything,” he said and proceeded to have Connor say who killed Abraham Lincoln, who is on the $20 bill and what kind of motorcycle his teacher rides.
Connor, who will be 22 in April, has played King Triton in the school’s production of “Little Mermaid,” played on the East High basketball team in “High School Musical” and been a flying monkey in the “Wizard of Oz.” He will graduate this spring and transition to a day support program.
Connor moved in next door to Chloe when he was 2 years old and after attending the early intervention program at Jordan Valley, returned there when he was 11 and has been at the school that Chloe has attended all her life.
Chloe, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, is non-verbal and about the same as a 2-year-old developmentally, her mother Heidi McKeever said. She will graduate to a day support program in December.
“She is always sweet, happy, loving and content, but with the attention focused on her at homecoming, she just lit up and understood it was her special night,” McKeever said.
The pair, dressed in lavender, held hands as they were crowned in the middle of a packed gym decorated with streamers and balloons and swayed to “The Greatest Love of All” for their dance. Then, each of them danced with family members and received a gift from Santa Claus.
“Things like this won’t happen very much in her life, so this was so special,” McKeever said. “We keep her sash, corsage and crown in a place of honor in our living room.”