Detroit Stories Episode 13: ‘The Making of a Falcon’ (PODCAST)

Graduation is always a milestone, but for St. Mary Catholic Central and the Goda family, it’s been a historic team effort with a lasting impact

(0:03) Graduation day is right around the corner, and this celebration is even more special for Jacob Goda and his parents, because Jacob has Down Syndrome.

(1:01) We learn about Jacob’s primary education in Monroe Public Schools, his desire to be a St. Mary Catholic Central Falcon, and how the St. André Bessette Inclusion Program at St. Mary Catholic Central High School helped make that dream reality.

(2:41) We meet Zach Patterson, a popular athlete at St. Mary’s — and a friend and mentor to Jacob. He talks about his friendship with Jacob and how the school’s peer mentorship program works.

(4:12) Kyle McElvany, the program’s director, discusses the Inclusion Program’s goals and structure, and Aimee, Jacob’s mom, mentions how this program differs from those in the public schools.

(7:31) Jacob’s dad Steve talks about how they approached St. Mary Catholic Central to get this program started and the support they found from school administration. School principal Jason Linster discusses the Inclusion Program through the lens of St. Mary Catholic Central’s mission to provide a Christ-centered learning environment for all.

(9:57) Zach reflects on Jacob’s joy and friendships, and Jacob talks about some of his favorite parts of school, from managing the girls’ softball team to receiving his varsity letter for bowling to his favorite class: yearbook.

(13:11) Jacob’s favorite teacher, Nancy Masuda, talks about Jacob’s role with the yearbook — how well he interviewed students, at first, and then how he grew into a great photographer, as well.

(14:34) The Godas reflect on how Jacob has blossomed at SMCC, and Nancy talks about the relationships St. Mary’s students have built with Jacob.

(17:23) Zach, Nancy, and Kyle discuss what school would be like without Jacob. In short, it would simply not be the same.

(20:33) Aimee talks about the witness that Jacob can bear for not just the four other inclusion students who have joined the program, but for an even broader community.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Emily Mentock; production by Ron Pangborn