Partners Club: A Place for Everyone


Partners Club at an October bowling tournament.

Quincy Donley, Reporter

West Anchorage High School has a unique program bringing Special Education and General Education students together as part of a district-wide organization sponsored by Special Olympics Alaska. Located in Room 38, The West Partners Club meets every Wednesday at lunch.

Throughout the school year, Partners Club explores sports and activities in and outside of West. The sports include bowling, floor hockey, downhill skiing, and basketball. For every sport there is a city or statewide tournament with clubs from other schools.

Senior Alex Lahn is a member of the Life Skills classes and Partners Club. His favorite memories over the years are from the bowling events. “Partners Club is awesome…and the bowling is really fun,” says Lahn. Bowling is a favorite for many members of the club. Another popular winter activity for Partners Club is skiing or snowboarding. The athletes have the opportunity to practice skiing and snowboarding at Hilltop Ski Area throughout the winter season, and in the past, there has been a citywide downhill skiing event.

Grace Henry, a senior at West, is the president of the club. She joined the club as a freshman, and she just kept coming back. Henry’s job is to lead the weekly meetings and organize activities. “The Special Olympics Community as a whole is such an amazing group, and just helping them and helping Partners Club is really fulfilling,” says Henry. Seeing the Partners Club kids around the school is especially rewarding for Henry. She says that Partners Club is a great way to get involved in the school community, and she’s made many friends that she might not have met otherwise.

There are four teacher advisors who facilitate the club and help plan activities: Temperance Tinker, Kaleb Kuehn, Jade Lee and Eric Camp. Tinker, an English teacher, is the only sponsor who does not work in the Special Education Department, though she began her career at West in 2009 teaching Special Education Math and English. Tinker currently teaches Honors English II and IB Literature.

Tinker says one of the reasons for her involvement in the club is so she can promote it to her own students. She wants people to see past the common misconceptions of Special Education students. “There are two rooms of Special Education students, and we want to make both of those rooms a place where everyone is welcome, where it’s not scary, where the Special Ed students aren’t ‘othered’ or ‘weirdos’, but are actually friends with the General Ed students,” Tinker says.

At the beginning of the school year the attendance rate for the club is usually high, but as the year progresses, attendance typically declines. Tinker and Henry both wish more people would come to Partners Club. On the other hand, Tinker likes that it is very laid back, so someone could show up only a few times, but they would still be considered a member of the club. Partners Club is a kind and accepting community so people are always welcome to come and try it out.