One of my greatest joys in life is being the advisor of the Circle Of Friends club at the high school where I work. It’s a club that promotes inclusion of all students and believe that even though we all have unique challenges in life, high school should be filled with fun, friends, dances, and sporting events. One of my favorite nights of the year is when Circle of Friends attends a high school football game together. (which many of my students with special needs have never done before) The general education students and our students with special needs had a pizza party, made signs, got their faces painted, and sat with the Marauder Maniacs (our student section) at the game. The joy in these students face is enough to fill your heart for the next 365 days until we do it all over again. I watched a student who one year ago would cover his ears and hide behind me anytime there was an unfamiliar peer or adult in the room stand in the bleachers last night with his peers singing “We will, we will rock you” while he stomped and clapped along. Another girl that came to me this year with an IEP stating that she was a “selective mute” at her old school, meaning no one heard her speak the entire school year, get her face painted, tell me she didn’t need me to sit by her in the student section, and tell me at the end of the game that she thought the football players were ‘cute’. And a boy that for weeks at the beginning of the year walked around campus alone, covered his head with his hood in class, and had no one to eat lunch with, slowly leave our group and by the end of the game was in the middle of a group of senior girls, holding a Go Marauders sign, cheering along with the cheerleaders. When the Marauders beat our rivals, the Scripps Ranch Falcons, by 1 point with 4 seconds left, everyone of my students jumped out of their seats, cheered, and slapped fives with the students around them….and for a moment in time, they were just another high school student, having fun at a football game with their friends….not defined by their autism, or down syndrome, or intellectual impairment.
I wanted to share some photos and also thank my amazing husband who comes to these events and shares life with these kids in a way that I know will make him the best father in the world!