Knox High School Officials Highlight Opportunities for Students with Developmental Disabilities

Helping students with developmental disabilities more fully become part of Knox High School is the goal of several programs highlighted during last month’s school board meeting.

The Life Skills class recently planned and hosted an Ugly Sweater Party, as part of a class project. Teacher Tiffany Hoar said it had students using Google Applied Digital Skills, along with math and reading. The event also involved other students, including the Culinary Arts class, which was responsible for creating Grinch-themed food. The ugly sweaters themselves were created as part of an Occupational Therapy activity. Hoar said the Ugly Sweater Party brought in students from Plymouth, LaVille, Rochester, Argos, and Knox Middle School.

Meanwhile, student council members discussed Common Grounds, an effort in which they team up with special needs students to operate a coffee shop. The proceeds are then split between the student council and the Life Skills class. Life Skills students also helped pack items purchased by the student council to be sent to troops overseas.

Additionally, Teacher Tammie Radican told board members about several activities she’s spearheading. One of those is Best Buddies, a student-led mentoring program that pairs special needs students with buddies and organizes monthly activities.

A similar effort planned for the coming months is a unified sports program. “It’s a marriage between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics,” Radican said. “They realized about five years ago that there is a whole section of students who are not allowed to compete, not because the schools are saying you can’t, but the disability just doesn’t allow them to be competitive at that level and/or they’re uncomfortable with that.” Sports will include flag football, bocce, track, and exhibition basketball.

One of Radican’s favorite events is the Special Needs Prom, which she organized for several years during her time at LaVille High School. She expects students from up to 13 area schools to attend Knox High School’s event. “We hold the prom during the school day,” she explained. “The kids come in the morning. They go to their schools. They come here in the morning. They leave, and they ride their buses home. They’re in a school. It may not be their home school, but they understand the structure of a school. Everything about it is set up as somewhat sensory-friendly. . . . It’s very formal. There will be limos here. We have hairdressers here. Girls are in formal gowns. The food is all catered. Swan Lake donates the linens for the table cloths. I mean, it’s elaborate.”

Radican pointed out that all of those activities are geared toward involving both the special education and general ed population. She added that while they have a big impact on special needs students, it’s the other students who get involved who are typically the most affected.