Administrators from Wales came to observe Kennedy’s special education department

by Brianna Sanchez (Story Editor) – 2/24/15

                                                       The logo designed for the performance inspired by “A Year to Remember”

Administrators from a school in Wales chose to come to California for the sole purpose of visiting Kennedy and one other LAUSD high school on February 2, 2015 to better observe how the special education department runs here.

The administrators’ decision to come to Kennedy was influenced by their viewing of the performance given at the Walt Disney Concert Hall where the Very Special Arts Festival was hosted last year in October. The festival is an annual event that celebrates the artistic achievements made by students with disabilities and their peers. Some of the special education students and their peer buddies performed their song, “A Year to Remember,” which they wrote together last semester under the musical direction of Susan Ryan.

“We dreamt it, we did it, and now we’re sharing it,” expressed Ryan while taking a few words from the song’s chorus.

They also had a chance to see how Kennedy manages to incorporate both types of students in what is known as the Peer Buddy Program. One of the presenters stated to the Welsh that the program “…mixes both general and special education students and creates an environment where students can learn from one another.”

Both the Cougar Café and the Cougar Gear had a spotlight in the presentation given. These school-based businesses were taken in to account as something that the administrators wanted to incorporate into their special education department. The administrators continued to ask questions about how they were run as well as how both businesses came about.

Senior Gisela Gomez had the opportunity to explain the café and what it actually entails while acknowledging how the business functions. “I mostly just explained to them how the business functions; we prep the food on Mondays and Wednesdays and serve the teachers on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It mainly serves as practice for the students involved to better prepare themselves for what is to come in the future job world.” The administrators also had the opportunity to eat some of the café’s baked goods.

Cougar gear was also presented, and the administrators had the chance to see one of the Cougar blankets as it was being presented. Both Leslie Anderson’s and Jayme Dean’s, special education teachers, class curriculums were examined as factors that might become incorporated in schools in Welch.

Other components of the presentation were taken note of such as events run by the special education department. The Peer Buddy Prom, for example, will be held on Open House this year in the Indoor Dining Room.

In addition to the presentations, they were also given a tour of the school and visited a few classrooms. Peer Buddy Amber Washington, a senior, was one of the students that helped in giving a tour. “The administrators mostly gave questions about how Kennedy integrates students,” says Washington.

Dean’s thought on the entire event was that “…it was nice to have the students exposed to people from a different country.”

According to Anderson, “They told me that they would very much like to have something similar to a Peer Buddy Program into their own school. Our students did great in their performances.”

About a week before the visitors came, both Dean and Anderson thought it best to prepare their students by giving them more information on the country of Wales. Dean explained, “They crossed the ocean just to visit our students, and I believe that it was a very special experience both for our visitors and for the students.”