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Beloved student, living on autism spectrum, inducted into National Honor Society

Hunter Frechette was nominated by his peers, who lauded his commitment to his schoolwork and activities.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Biddeford High School inducted its newest National Honor Society class on May 1.

Among the potential valedictorians and future leaders, one young man stood out.

Hunter Frechette was born with Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, Tourette's, ADHD, and a heart condition. He faced challenges the moment he was born. His mother, Diane, said she was told Hunter might not make it home, and not without a ventilator.

A nurse by trade, Diane and Hunter willed him through his early years. The disorders present challenges to Hunter, Diane said. But they offer unconventional gifts along the way.

For Hunter, routine is everything, and he thrives under those conditions.

"It’s a definite strong character [trait] with Hunter," Diane said, during a Thursday interview alongside her son at school.

Fellow senior and close friend Mackenzie Day nominated Hunter for NHS and got in herself.

"He has introduced me into so many of my opportunities that led to me getting into NHS," she said. "And if Hunter’s there, and I got into NHS, then why shouldn’t he be able to as well?"

Now an honorary member of the prestigious honor society, Hunter's hard work, caring friends and family, and those routines got him to this point in life.

Schoolwork seems most important to the 19-year-old, but Hunter's life is also filled with sports. Diane shared photos of her son surfing, horseback riding, playing sled hockey, and basketball. 207 featured the mother-son duo in 2021 as Diane coached and Hunter played in Biddeford's Challenger baseball league. Now, Hunter coaches others in the sport.

"Hunter is a student who everybody loves," Principal Martha Jacques said. "People know him. People enjoy spending time with him."

For his mom, beyond the accolades, there is one thing she wants to hear above all.

"I’m proud of myself," Hunter said while sitting next to his mom; eager to leave the interview and get back to class.

Why shouldn't he be proud? Hunter Frechette has already done just about everything he has set his mind to.

So, what’s next? Some more independence if he has anything to say about it. Hunter has planned to move out, with some minor oversight at a new apartment, continuing his studies and jobs along the way. 

Diane says she’s all for it. After all, she encouraged every milestone up to this point.

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