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Student-inspired idea brings kids together

November 21, 2000

Student-inspired idea brings kids together



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Teresa Wright scoops sugar from a container and places it in a measuring cup. A little spills on the counter, but Teresa keeps going until the cup is full.

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She's eager to help make peanut butter fudge for her school's Holiday Bazaar, an assignment that isn't much different from her typical school activities.

On a typical day, the 12-year-old special needs student at Marshall Street School learns how to cook, do laundry, wash dishes and make crafts with teacher assistance. On Monday, Teresa and three other students received guidance from four Western Heights Middle School seventh-graders.

"Over here, Teresa," said Brittany Girardin, 12, as she showed Teresa where to pour the sugar. "We're almost full."

It was Brittany's idea to spend some time with the special needs students, to learn about what their school day entails, and in turn to show the Marshall Street students what goes on in her school. The four Marshall Street students will spend Dec. 18 at Western Heights.

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Brittany said she was at lunch one day when she thought of the program she named You and Me.

"I thought about my mom, who works at United Cerebal Palsy, and I just thought it would be a brilliant idea," Brittany said. "So I talked to my best friends, and they said it was fine."

So Brittany and her friends, Jessi Magaha, Latosha Hollar and Brittany Vinson, all 12, approached their assistant principal, Rick Weber, about implementing the program.

"I was involved in special ed for 18 years, so I thought you almost have to do it," Weber said.

The students received approval from Western Heights Principal Robert Brown and Marshall Street Principal Gary Hollandsworth.

Weber said Brittany Girardin and her friends tied You and Me into Character Counts, a community program aimed at boosting good manners by watching how others behave.

"It sounded like a lot of fun," Jessi said. "I thought it would be a good experience working with them. They could try new things."

Brittany said that so far the program is going better than she expected.

"I'm meeting some new friends, and I know I'll be coming back here," Brittany said. "Teresa likes me and I like her. We have the same similarities, so we're having fun."

When the Marshall Street students spend the day at Western Heights, Brittany said they'll eat pizza and take part in different activities.

"I'm learning that they're not as different as we thought," Brittany said. "They're just like everyone else, only more complicated. They make me happy."

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