CIRCLE PINES, Minn. (FOX 9) - Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minnesota was rocking Friday afternoon with Cougar spirit filling the gymnasium for the annual Winter Pep Fest. All of it culminated in a moment, no one there will soon forget.
Bailey Ratgen was crowned Senior Class King. The 17-year-old is non-verbal, diagnosed with co-occurring Down Syndrome and autism. He has a twin brother, Owen, who loves him dearly. Last week in advance of the festivities, Owen, a Centennial lacrosse player, took to social media urging his senior classmates to give his brother a moment in the spotlight.
“We’ve always been really close,” said Owen. “He’s been my best friend ever since growing up. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He makes every day better.”
Owen called for them to vote for Bailey, who has an overwhelming spirit and a giant heart and is a familiar face around campus, getting around on his bicycle.
The boys’ parents couldn’t be prouder.
“Freshman come into high school wanting to all be the same and having differences looked down upon and now today, they’ve matured to the point, they can celebrate someone else’s differences, it’s really neat to see,” said Brad Ratgen, the boys' father.
It was a celebration, a school-wide celebration with a crown, confetti and a chant for Bailey that is still reverberating throughout the school.
“I had no idea what was going on,” said Carla Ratgen, the boys’ mom. “I have no words. Just awesome.”
“It means the world to me, the world to me,” said Owen.