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Southwest Leadership Class throws party for special needs students

By: Cinde Ingram

HIGH POINT — Southwest Guilford High School’s Leadership Class arrived early on Friday despite the risk of inclement weather to host its annual Adapted Curriculum Holiday Party for middle and high school students in special needs programs.

Guilford County Schools had a two-hour delayed start, but the seniors in Leadership Development teacher Tracy Repko’s class showed up early to provide food, games and crafts and to await the arrival of Santa.

“Our kids at this school are very inclusive,” Repko said. “These kids are very included when they walk down the hall, and everyone loves them.”

At least one student in the hallway stopped Santa to ask for earbuds.

“It’s awesome. I get a lot of high fives, knuckle bumps and some hugs,” said Jesse Cross, who dressed as Santa. “They’re all excited. Even the kids in the hall were when I came in. They’re not at the party, but they’re all having fun.”

The Leadership Class volunteers at Shadybrook Elementary School as afternoon reading and breakfast buddies, and at Florence Elementary as breakfast buddies throughout the school year, Repko said. Students also conduct fundraising campaigns for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and St. Jude Children’s Hospital. They have helped at the Salvation Army Gift for Kids stocking campaign and by ringing bells at several locations.

“They volunteered all fall at the Miracle League for Special Olympics and for the fall High Point bowling event, which is why they love to do this party for our Adapted Curriculum classes,” Repko said. “I have been doing the Leadership Class since 1999 and we love to participate with these activities and events.”

Natalie Primavera said her class had made the decision as a group to host the holiday party for the students they help throughout the year.

“This just makes it more special,” she said. “I love seeing their reactions. Them smiling makes me smile. I makes me feel like a good person really. And preparing for it is just as fun.”

Carly Cook, who assisted Primavera handing out hot chocolate with marshmallows, agreed the holiday party was both a fun event for attendees and an opportunity for Leadership Class members to feel good during the holiday season.

“It’s festive and brings cheer to everything,” Cook said.

Diya Patel helped students decorate reindeer brownies with cookie icing, pretzels and red M&Ms.

“It’s very cool to do this because I can make other people happy,” she said.

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