Each year around Valentines Day, my school hosts a special dance for all of the special needs high school students throughout the county. Students who volunteer to host the dance are given colorful shirts to wear, and their job is to greet students as they arrive on buses and then escort then to the gym where the dance is held. Scores of buses arrive all morning, and hundreds of excited teenagers, many in wheelchairs, are cheered as they enter the decorated gym.
The goal for our students is to dance and entertain the visitors all morning and make them feel that they are just like the “regular” students who attend proms and homecoming dances during the school year.
We held the dance today, and 6-7 students in each of my classes were absent so they could serve as hosts. Other students had donated much of their weekend to help decorate for the dance. Although I hate to have so many students miss my class, I can’t think of a more worthwhile endeavor. So many students who are often overlooked or who rarely have the opportunity to participate in traditional school events are treated as if they are the most important and most popular students in school as they dance with cheerleaders and football players.
What an outstanding event for students who too often are shunned!
What an outstanding event for privileged and popular students who learn the importance of extending friendship to special needs students! At the end of the day, these students, dressed in their new red “High School Musical” shirts returned to class — exhausted, happy, and with lots of stories to share.
I wonder who benefits the most!