Ellen Cox, a 15-year-old with cerebral palsy, confidently strutted down the hallways of Forest Hills High School on Wednesday wearing the same orthotics as she had on Tuesday. She seemed unbothered by the stares and gasps from those around her.
“I bet she got them from the discount podiatrist,” whispered Diane, 15, who asked to have her last name redacted.
A group text thread sprung up around third period with the question: “Do you know how much her parents’ insurance pays?”
Responses from Cox’s classmates included the theory that she owned multiple pairs of the same orthotics — questioning whether she even polished them — and speculation that the orthotics were hand-me-downs from her older sister (who coincidentally also has cerebral palsy).
“If my younger brother needed orthotics, he would probably have those,” texted Laura, 15, who also asked to have her last name redacted.
Most of the boys were confused because they hadn’t even noticed that she had repeated the footwear.
“Do people actually care about stuff like that?” asked Roger Paulson, 15, now on his third day of wearing the same unwashed T-shirt.
By Thursday, everyone moved on to gossip about Marie Thompson, 15, who accidentally came to school in the same wheelchair again.