“How cool would it be if we could build relationships between groups of students in our school who don’t normally interact as much?”
That was the idea behind Ralston High School’s “Rambuddies” program last November. After months of planning and initial introductions, the group took its first field trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium this month. Program advisor, Jordan Engel, said for many special education students, it was their first time at the Zoo. “It would be comparable to a trip to Disneyland,” Engel explained. RHS Senior, Adele Bourke, said the day was extremely rewarding. “Just seeing everyone have so much fun” made work to prepare worth the effort, Bourke explained.
Special education students and mainstream peers began meeting during homeroom in December, building real connections that expanded into other parts of the day. “A huge goal was getting special education students more comfortable and involved in school,” Bourke said, adding she hopes her peers “are happy and feel welcome, and know that they’re one of us.”
This year, 13 mainstream students participated in the Rambuddies program. Bourke and Engel hope the program grows even larger in years to come.