The South Huntington School District has again been honored as Champions of Change by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA). This is the second time the district has received this special recognition in three years.
The Champions of Change recognition celebrates innovative programs in school districts across the state that optimize existing resources to address issues of equity, demonstrate strong student academic performance and introduce unique learning environments that are cutting-edge and future-oriented. The recognition is presented quarterly to a few select districts. Local NYSSBA representative Cathy Flanagan presented the Champions of Change banner at the October 25th school board meeting.
The South Huntington School District was recognized for Walt Whitman High School’s College Bracelet Initiative run by the high school’s Life Skills students. The Life Skills program is for students with mild to severe intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Down Syndrome and autism, and/or physical disabilities. They learn vocational and other skills, in addition to academics, that will allow them to become an active part of their community.
The College Bracelet program was created in the spring of 2023 to congratulate graduating seniors on their college acceptances. The bead bracelets feature the school colors plus the name of the college or university the senior will be attending in the fall. The Life Skills students use their daily vocational skills training class to make the bracelets, running it just like a business with order forms, spreadsheets, order intake, and even a production manager. After the bracelets are created, the students package them individually and seal them with a “Made with Love” sticker. Life Skills students may not get the chance to go to college themselves but their teachers say this helps them to be part of the celebration.
NYSSBA rep Ms. Flanagan got to meet the students and their teachers at the board meeting, and commended them all on the great work they’ve done on this innovative and inclusive program. Corrine McLaughlin, Special Education-Life Skills Vocational teacher at Whitman, praised her students saying, “These amazing students embraced the idea and have been able to take their skills and knowledge to create these beautiful bracelets. They work together every day to order supplies, research college colors, complete data entry tasks, look up students’ schedules and arrange for bracelet deliveries. They continue to show their creativity and take the bracelet program to new heights.”
Congratulations to our Life Skills students! We’re looking forward to more beautiful college bracelets once admissions season rolls around again in the spring.
The South Huntington Board of Education, along with NYSSBA representative Ms. Flanagan, met the students and their teachers at the October board meeting and commended them all on the great work they’ve done on this innovative and inclusive program.