But this is the first year that GHS has enacted a program that pairs those students with other regular ed students. "Best Buddies" recently opened a new chapter at GHS?and its already seen strong involvement.
Many of the high school students don't ever see or interact with the special needs students because they are rarely ever in the same space. This program is designed to alleviate that situation by allowing the special needs students the opportunity to hang out with other students in the school.
Linda Schroeder is a resource teacher at the high school and also the sponsor for the GHS chapter of "Best Buddies."
"This program is really good for my class because the 'regular' kids can be a positive influence," Schroeder remarked.
The program was first suggested to Schroeder by an acquaintance at Old National Trail this past summer. She began working on it around September and then in December made a general announcement at school to gather kids who may be interested in such a program.
Then there were five officers selected and pairings began. To date, there are 13 pairs.
Taylor Query, a GHS sophomore and chapter president, had to go through an interview process with Indiana Best Buddies Program Manager Bridget Young. All five of the officers as well as Schroeder also had to attend training before they could assume their respected roles.
The way the pairs were selected was based on interests filled out during that application process. Schroeder also commented on how she tried to keep the students paired up with same gender and close to the same class level.
There are no typical outings for these pairs. Senior Kevin Sanders recently took his buddy, Junior Thomas Jarboe out to Alex Alleys in Greencastle after school.
Alicia Simms was contacted by her buddy Emily Ryder, both sophomores, and met up at the Putnam County Library for an afternoon of looking up recipes for Simms' Spanish project.
Many of the special needs students at GHS are from other school corporations. This hasn't caused an issue thus far though.
"Since some of the buddies have their licenses and other travel arrangements can be made if they don't, there has been no real problem with the school boundaries," Schroeder said.
This June the officers and sponsor will attend a leadership camp held at Indiana University.
Best Buddies was initially started in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver and has chapters in middle schools, high schools and college campuses across the country and internationally.
There are 51 chapters in Indiana including Indiana University, DePauw University Danville High School and Avon Middle School.
For more information on Best Buddies or to donate visit their website at www.bestbuddies.org