Skiing with Partners Club

Partner Club members going up the Hilltop Ski Area

Dmytro Maloroshvylo, Reporter

Alaska is home to a plethora of wintertime activities, but taking the initiative to get outside and experience them can be a challenge for some students. The Partners Club at West is facilitating these adventures, while fostering connections between special education and regular education students.

Sponsored by Special Olympics, Partners Club allows its member to try many activities and sports. For the winter months, skiing one of the main activities. Students have a unique opportunity to ski or snowboard at Hilltop Ski Area for free. This type of outdoor education allows students develop relationships and allows everybody to make new friends. “Partners Club has two components: it’s supposed to be social, so our meetings on Wednesday give the kids an opportunity to socialize and do fun stuff together. The second component is they do sports, and it’s really a big part of Partners Club and Special Olympics, so right now we’re doing skiing, before we went bowling. We’re also doing floor hockey, so it gives our kids a chance to do some pretty cool stuff with their peers,” says Michaela Kolerok, Life Skills teacher at West.

Amongst all the clubs West offers, Partners Club plays a unique role, connecting special education and regular education students for a supportive and rewarding experience for all. Inclusive education allows all the students to feel valued and loved, no matter what their needs or abilities are. “It’s not like the kids with disabilities are in one corner, and the kids without are in another one. Everyone is all combined and mixed, and they are treating each other like people. And that is the point of Partners Club,” says Kolerok.

Partner Club students also take part in holiday and special event preparation. Earlier in the year a lot of students around the school received pleasant gifts from the club; lollipops with some kind words to bring a smile and relieve worrying before the final exams. Partners Club also made a lot of hearts with candies and special wishes for Valentine’s Day in February. They believe that making even a couple of people happier is certainly worth it. Partners Club is open for any West High students and is ready to support you, make a part of a big lovely family.

The club meets every Wednesday while lunch in the room 38. Attendees can just socialize while eating their lunches, some play ball games, watch videos or do certain crafts. “Partners Club is a lot of fun, you can hang out with people and be involved in fun activities,” says club member Umu Lorenzo.  Students in Partners Club interact with each other and open themselves to real emotions and happy feelings. Being in a group which cares about you gives special kids a chance to feel needed, and what matters – not alone.