Opening Up

During fifth and sixth block, the orchestra room is occupied by two classes, cadet teaching and social skills. In the classes students that face social challenges are able to befriend students who they would otherwise never know.

Social skills is made up of disabled students and the Cadet teaching students are students who model appropriate ways to behave. Each quarter a cadet teaching student is paired with a social skills student and they teach them how to act in public.

The current cadets are juniors and seniors that have been recommended for the class

by teachers and peers. Next years cadets will be chosen from students who fill out applications and are then interviewed by the teachers Anne Flora and Melanie Bandel.

“My brother, who graduated last year, was in the class,” said Alex Elliot, senior. “Mrs. Bandel just called me to the office and was like ‘we’ll do anything to get you into this class.’”

Cadets focus on teaching communication skills, respect, controlling emotions and a variety of other things. Although the cadets are teaching, they also gain a lot from the class.
“Cadets get a huge benefit from interacting with kids with disabilities,” said Bandel. “It helps them understand the challenges they face both physically and emotionally”

“I decided last summer that when I grow up I want to be a personal care aide,” said Melanie Onando, junior. The class helps her with achieving this goal.

In the class students participate in a variety of games.

“We do a lot of skill building, what would you do, and real world things,” said Onando.  These games help students open up and participate in class.

“Social skills kids are able to interact with kids they’d never know. They establish lifelong friendships,” said Bandel.

Each pair of students also completes a “stepping out” project. These are planned by the cadet and are a way to help social skills students participate in things outside of school.

“Some students will make blankets for a homeless shelter or help out at a food kitchen,” said Bandel.

For one of Elliot’s projects she and her partner attended a varsity football game.

The class also goes on field trips. The students decide on where to go on these trips. They as an opportunity to practice social skills in a community setting. The class has gone to the Zoo and Powerplay for some of these field trips.

“My favorite thing is seeing the kids just really enjoy themselves and laugh with everyone and act like they’re with their best friends, just seeing them be themselves,” said Elliot.