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Program teams honor students, special needs students

May 18, 2001

Program teams honor students, special needs students



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A group of friends sit together in the Rebel Cafe at South Hagerstown High School, coloring signs for a weekend fund-raiser.

Several times a school year, the 20 special needs and honor students can also be found together, sometimes working on projects or pairing up for day trips to museums, zoos and plays.

The students say they're learning from each other and enjoy spending time together.

"It's cool," said Hazel Crawley, a 15-year-old special needs student. "I get to meet them and have fun and do nice things together."

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Daryl Hayes, a special education teacher, said the students are part of the Best Buddies program. He calls it an enriching experience for both the special needs and honor students.

"If we kept them (special needs students) in a small room all day, they wouldn't be exposed to this," Hayes said. "And we hope that the honor kids learn to realize that there is more than just their click of friends."

"It's an eye-opening experience for a lot of them."

He said he and English teacher Mary Fortson selected the buddies and advise the group.

"It's fun to go on field trips and meet people and make friends," said special needs student Andrew Schatz, 16.

Andrew said one of his favorite trips with his buddies was going to see a performance of "Peter Pan" at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

"I think it's a nice opportunity, because we're able to interact with people who you don't normally interact with," said junior Allison Wine, 17. "It should be a program that should be in all schools, so every special needs student has the opportunity to have more friends."

Hayes said parents and students in the school have been supportive of the program.

"It's working out very well," he said.

"You do nothing but learn from it," said Mallory Tsetsilas, a 16-year-old junior.

The group is holding a car wash fund-raiser Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of South High. The fund-raiser will benefit field trips for the buddies.

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