Mikaylah Partin was well-known at Turlock Junior High for her warm smile, quick wit and positive spirit. Mikaylah passed away unexpectedly over Christmas break last year due to health complications — but her spirit lives on at the campus.
In the months following Mikaylah’s death, her fellow students constructed a painted tree with multi-colored paper leaves. As the days went by the number of leaves on the tree grew and grew with reflective, heart-felt personal messages to Mikaylah.
Due to her illness, Mikaylah spent her entire life in a motorized wheelchair but she never let her illness or wheelchair slow her down.
Mikaylah was recently honored, along with several other Turlock area students, by local politicians and leaders during the Every Student Succeeding awards program held in Modesto. Every Student Succeeding honors students who have overcome and succeeded against challenges, have gone beyond expectations and have won the hearts of their teachers and staff. The honor is given by the Association of School Administrators Stanislaus Charter and the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
“Mikaylah was chosen as our Every Student Succeeding because she always displayed excitement, vigor, and an extreme enthusiasm for life. Mikaylah was a student who never saw the disability, only her true ability,” said TJHS Assistant Principal Tim Norton.
The stories of her will and positive attitude are numerous.
At TJHS Mikaylah won the hearts of many of her teachers and staff. One of them was health technician Sharon Bonner, who helped with her daily medications. Bonner knew the difficulties she endured and she said that Mikaylah always faced them with confidence and dignity. Mikaylah shared with Bonner that she had an allergy to latex and she had to miss a friend’s birthday party because of it. Bonner said Mikaylah was not afraid to share her life, and that made it so much easier for those around her to admire her.
Her heart was larger than anything her illness could throw at her. Many of her classes were on the second story at TJHS and she would often become humorously agitated if she had to wait even one minute for campus supervisors who were slow to open an elevator door for her. She wanted to be in class on time, ready to learn like everyone else.
During her fourth period class Mikaylah was an aide for art teacher Karen De Tomasi. On one occasion, when papers were to be passed out to all students, Mikaylah became visibly upset when De Tomasi “took her job away,” and passed out the papers herself. Mikaylah made it clear that passing out papers was “her job.”
Twice a week Mikaylah would work with adaptive P.E. teacher Corine Meyer to improve motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Meyer said Mikaylah would always say three very definitive statements: “I can do it myself; don’t touch my chair; and can I help?” Meyer said Mikaylah always wanted everyone to know that she was willing and very capable of many tasks and she was always the first to volunteer to help carry equipment — even if the bag was bigger than she was.
“Mikaylah had a wonderful, competitive spirit and was her own best advocate who never complained about anything,” said Meyer.
In the face of all her challenges she never let herself become a victim. She was a normal young teen who enjoyed texting (even at school on occasion) and being involved in her church youth group, where she would greet and sign people in.
“After she passed the whole school mourned for her. She had a smile that would just tear you apart,” said Norton.
Several weeks ago the leaves from the tree were presented to Mikaylah’s mother. A plaque now hangs in the school library in her honor.
Mikaylah Partin: March, 17, 1997 — Dec. 21, 2011.