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DENMARK, Wis. - We’re inching closer and closer to prom season and for one Denmark High School Student, this year will be very special.
Justin Mleziva’s nomination to prom court is teaching us all about acceptance, unity and friendship.
Justin’s mother, Kim, said his journey has been very unique.
When Justin was two-years-old, he was diagnosed with autism. His parents began treatment right away.
“He just wasn't making the milestones other children his age were making,” she said.
His parents were always his voice, making sure he had the same opportunities as other children.
“His peers just embraced him, it was just a beautiful thing,” said Kim.
Justin started first grade with many of the students in his class now, including a special group of girls that knew how to communicate with him and calm him down if he was ever overwhelmed.
“There are a few little girls and I call them his mother hens,” said Kim. “They would sit down and rub his back, just to soothe him.”
One of those mother hens was now, 17-year-old Leah Kralovetz.
“It's been great to see how he's matured and grown up into the kind kid he is now,” said Leah.
He’s a kid that everyone loves.
“I think I've learned to always appreciate everyone and to not judge a book by its cover,” said Emily Nelsen, Justin's friend.
Justin always spreads smiles and joy throughout the hallways. So when it was time for classmates to nominate a prom court, it was simple.
“Every time we would talk about it, Justin would be in it. Justin would be in the conversation, everyone wanted Justin to be on,” said Leah. “You didn't even have to tell people, they just knew, he deserved it. “
“We got the ballot and I'm just like, guys, we gotta vote Justin, this is his chance to shine,” said Joe Schlies, Justin's friend.
And when the announcement was made, Justin and his family were ecstatic.
“Totally took my husband and I by surprise,” said Kim.
And there was another surprise for Justin. Escorting him on the big night, will be his friend since first grade, Leah.
“He's never been to a dance before and I'd like to be the one to experience that with him and make sure he has a good time,” said Leah.
Justin is already making plans.
“Gonna dance and eat dinner,” he said.
Some of the guys in his grade picked out tuxes recently alongside the nominee.
“Pink and the suit, black,” described Justin of his prom night attire.
While the night in April will be fun, full of dinner, dancing and friends, Justin's story is much more.
“We know how to be accepting of others and their differences,” explained Leah. “We just treat everyone the same, like equals.”
These are lessons we could all learn from.
“I like it here because they like me,” said Justin.
Justin Mleziva -- a classmate, a band member, a friend to all -- and now, a part of Denmark High School's prom court. He’s a teenager making a difference by being himself.
Denmark's prom will be held on Saturday, April 7.
We wish Justin and all the prom court the best of luck.