Nebo district holds Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Ex­trav­a­ganza

Serve Daily - - BUILDING COMMUNITY - By Lana Hiskey

“An in­cred­i­ble day at Di­a­mond Fork Ju­nior High School!” was the re­ac­tion of one helper who at­tended the Nebo School District-wide Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Ex­trav­a­ganza. The day was full of ex­cite­ment and en­cour­age­ment for all those in at­ten­dance. Un­der the di­rec­tion of Jo Edan Parker (spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher) and Linda Lewis (former PE teacher), the event was more spec­tac­u­lar than they had an­tic­i­pated.

What be­gan as a dream to have a spe­cial needs class par­tic­i­pate in an in­tra­mu­ral pro­gram has be­come an an­tic­i­pated event that in­volves ev­ery ju­nior high spe­cial needs stu­dent in the Nebo district. Each year, the ex­trav­a­ganza has be­come more pop­u­lar and more in­volved. Even­tu­ally this pro­gram de­vel­oped into a peer tu­tor con­fer­ence in­volv­ing nu­mer­ous stu­dents from a host school as well as from each ju­nior high in the district. In the past 10 years, this event has in­volved sev­eral thou­sand stu­dents. This year, 112 spe­cial needs stu­dents and ap­prox­i­mately 142 peer tu­tors, timers, score keep­ers and helpers par­tic­i­pated in the 14 events. Peer tu­tors es­corted spe­cial needs stu­dents through sports events such as high jump, run­ning long jump, soft­ball throw and a 100-me­ter race.

Stu­dents also par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral car­ni­val type games and en­joyed craft booths in­clud­ing face paint­ing, nail paint­ing and cre­at­ing art work on bracelets and can­vas bags.

The awards assem­bly af­ter lunch hon­ored eight stu­dents with medals for plac­ing in the sport­ing events. They were: First Place High Jump, Destiny Ve­lazquez. First Place High Jump, Dal­lon Stub­ble­field. First Place Run­ning Long Jump, Ash­lyn Jack­man. First Place Soft­ball Throw, Dal­lon Stub­ble­field. Sec­ond Place Soft­ball Throw, Kevin Areche. First Place Soft­ball Throw, Ash­ley Mott. First Place 100 Me­ter, Carter Massey. First Place 100 Me­ter, Sierra Hud­son.

New this year was an elec­tri­fy­ing dance. Brenda Burr, prin­ci­pal at Di­a­mond Fork Ju­nior, taught the stu­dents the elec­tric slide, and all the par­tic­i­pants put their dance skills in mo­tion.

Lewis and Parker thanked all those who took part in plan­ning and par­tic­i­pat­ing in this event in­clud­ing Holli Averett, PE teacher at Di­a­mond Fork Ju­nior, and her first pe­riod class; Scott Buck and his third pe­riod class; Brenda Burr, Pam Nor­ton, Mike Larsen, Kelly An­der­son, Mar­lene An­der­son, Anita Ste­wart, Wayne and Marge Lind­sey; and the teach­ers and tech­ni­cians who work with th­ese spe­cial in­di­vid­u­als ev­ery day.

Lewis em­pha­sized that the peer tu­tors will re­mem­ber this ex­trav­a­ganza for the rest of their lives. She said, “It is not un­com­mon for stu­dents who have served as peer tu­tors in the past to come back and thank us for let­ting them be a par­tic­i­pant in the ex­trav­a­ganza. Some of th­ese stu­dents were so im­pressed with their ex­pe­ri­ence that they are now study­ing to work with chil­dren with spe­cial needs. Co­or­di­nat­ing this event with Miss Parker is a high­light of my year. Hav­ing been re­tired for four years, I feel it a priv­i­lege that the district still al­lows me to co­or­di­nate this event. The stu­dents are won­der­ful and show so much com­pas­sion for their peers and fel­low stu­dents. This day will live on in their lives for a long time.”

Parker said, “This is a time when our kids come to­gether and as­so­ciate with oth­ers to just have fun and get away from their typ­i­cal day in the class­room. It is a grow­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all those in­volved, es­pe­cially for those who serve as peer tu­tors. As men­tioned by Coach (Lewis), this is truly a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence, and I’ve looked for­ward to this day ev­ery year for the past 10 years. Our goal this year was to give our kids a taste of the mean­ing be­hind this year’s district theme, ‘I Choose to Mat­ter.’ I think we may have ac­com­plished this.”

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