SPOKANE, Wash. — About 50 students gathered in a Gonzaga Prep classroom to watch Spokane native Steve Gleason receive his Congressional gold medal.

A graduate of the preparatory school, Gleason once sat in many of the same classrooms of the students.

They said watching him receive the honor Wednesday was “very inspiring.”

“It’s just really crazy to think of everything he’s gone through and everything he’s impacted and that he’s been in the same place as me, which is really amazing,” said Senior Elizabeth Meyer.

Seeing Gleason’s accomplishments while living with ALS showed Meyer and other students they can overcome obstacles, she said.

“He’s showing that as long as you have that drive and passion and work ethic, there’s really nothing that can stop you from making a difference,” said Xzandre Jean-Francois, a senior.

Jean-Francois was one of several students who took a trip to New Orleans for a social justice class.

While they were there, they learned about the issues people in the city were still recovering from after Hurricane Katrina.

They also met Gleason in person and hear his message of perseverance.

“It’s motivational, especially since he has roots here at Gonzaga Prep,” said Senior Elizabeth Figueroa. “It kinda gives me the idea that there’s a chance for me as well to make a big difference in this world.”

“He’s a great example of being a beacon of light, love, passion and work ethic, especially in the face of adversity,” Jean-Francois said.

As these students prepared for graduation, they said watching the ceremony showed them a greater example of the meaning of dedication.

“I’m just a teenager like he was, and it just shows that anyone can do anything,” said Hannah Meany, a junior.

“I want to continue to live up to his motto of ‘No white flags,’” Figueroa said.

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