By Mark Kettering, Director of Special Education
The 2016 – 2017 school year has been off to a busy start for all of our students that participate in the Best Buddies/Perfect Pals programs within Grayslake Community High School District 127. From weekend get-togethers to afterschool meetings, our students are spending time socializing, problem solving, and enjoying all that being a teenager has to offer.
The Best Buddies program at Grayslake Central and the Perfect Pals program at Grayslake North create an environment for students, with and without disabilities, to share their interests, thoughts, and experiences. For many students, this partnership starts during their freshman year and may last until they graduate. For others, it may last much longer.
Every new year of Best Buddies and Perfect Pals starts with a party; just as any beginning should. This year, students in both programs attended a meet and greet where they spent time learning about each other, sharing interests, and enjoying snacks. As a result of this party, students left with a smile, and a few more friends than when they came. And, each had a specific “Buddy” or “Pal” that they connected with and will partner up with for future meetings, parties, afterschool events, and weekend activities.
Since that initial celebration, members of this club have participated in various activities, attended contests and events at the school, participated in Homecoming festivities and have just “hung out” on weekends. They have begun to develop trusting friendships that add meaning to the lives of all students involved.
In the weeks ahead, the Best Buddies and Perfect Pals clubs will be taking advantage of another reason to celebrate; Halloween. And, to ensure that Halloween is recognized as it should be, students will partake in pumpkin carving, cookie decorating, games and other “Spooktacular” activities that are sure to bring lots of laughter and plenty of memories.
District 127 is proud of the friendships that are fostered in these programs. We have a wonderful community that sends us great young adults and the success of these programs is another indicator of that. Our hope is that all members of these clubs will carry the values and lessons learned into their everyday lives as they exemplify integrity, compassion, and acceptance.