Parma Senior High student clubs celebrate and embrace diversity, friendship
November 5, 2018
by Eve Vishnick
12th grade, Parma Senior High School
In the spirit of Halloween and the fall season, Parma Senior High’s Friends of Rachel, an anti-bullying club, and Diversity Club held a party for the school’s special education classes and the PACTS (Parma Area Center for Transition Services) program.
High school and eighth-grade students were thrilled to trick-or-treat around the classroom and fill their bags with assorted festive goodies. After candy and treats were passed out, everyone was given materials to decorate Halloween-themed masks.
“This party is something that is looked forward to every year,” Katie Vento, PACTS program educator said.
PACTS is a program offered within the Parma City Schools for students with disabilities that trains them for employment and life skills. The goal of PACTS is to promote independence in the lives of students.
This event was an opportunity for everyone involved to “have fun, meet new people and hopefully make friends,” Erin Austin, another educator for the PACTS program shared. However, according to Austin, this was more than just a seasonal celebration.
“Our students benefit from the social interactions; getting to interact with kids their own age,” she explained.
For these students, interactions through social events help build important skills that directly benefit them in the classroom, school setting and beyond.
“It’s awesome to have peers work with students who have special needs,” Vento expressed. “They like working with and getting help from kids their own age instead of adults. The best thing is seeing the kids interacting in the halls afterward.”
Vento added it’s important to remember that “part of diversity is seeing these truly diverse individuals, who are just like us, with just a few more needs.”
Any Parma Senior High School students who may be interested in participating in a future celebration can take the first step by attending a Friends of Rachel or Diversity Club meeting on Tuesdays after school in Room 120. In the past, similar celebrations have been held in the spring that included egg-hunts and spring activities.
To take part in this event, and others in the future, is to truly embrace diversity and all students within our school.
PHOTO CAPTION: Parma Senior High School students hang out during a Halloween-themed party this fall. The party was hosted by the Friends of Rachel, an anti-bullying club, and the Diversity Club for the PACTS program at the school.