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At Faribault High, senior Joey Erickson's smile has carried the Class of 2021

The Class of 2021 is preparing to graduate next month, and they credit Joey for changing their lives with his friendship and kindness.

FARIBAULT, Minn. — Swim captain. Football manager. Homecoming king. Beloved by all.

That’s Joey Erickson, the engine of the Class of 2021 at Faribault High School and, hands down, the most popular senior in the building.

“It’s so incredible,” his mom, Tina, said. “It gives me hope, that a lot of these kids with special needs do have support. And I see a lot of acceptance out there.”

As his special education teacher Isaiah Fuller put it, Joey’s just “one of the guys” among his classmates as they prepare for graduation next month. KARE 11 got a chance to see his impact first-hand on Wednesday evening, when we traveled to the city of 23,000 for Senior Awards night at Faribault High School.  

Credit: Tina Erickson
Joey Erickson served as manager of the Faribault Falcons football team.

A long line of students, teachers and administrators offered compliment after compliment for Joey, crediting him for truly changing their lives these past several years in the Faribault school district.

Best friend Zach Siegert: “Everyone loves him… my life wouldn’t be the same without him.”

John Palmer: “He is just always smiling. Bringing joy to everyone.”

Payton Ross: “He’s a great guy… He’s so energetic and brings out the best in people.”

Assistant Principal Joe Sage: “When I think about Faribault High School and what it means to be a Falcon… one of the first things I think about is Joey Erickson.”

Special education teacher and swimming coach Isaiah Fuller: “Joey means a lot to Faribault in general. I think it extends beyond the school… I bet three quarters of the town knows who he is.”

Joey will graduate with the rest of his classmates on June 6. After that, his parents said he’ll continue his post-high school learning in a local STEP program, in addition to his work at Two Rivers Health Center. Oh, and he’ll remain a mainstay at Faribault High School events since his younger sister will still be there.

Because you know Joey Erickson could never miss a Falcons game.

“Faribault has really accepted him and really embraced him,” his mom Tina said. “These kids are amazing, these Faribault kids.”