Tidbits and Commentary from Jane of the Journal.
|Best Buds and Good Friends Too|
|Sunday, 09 October 2011|
— Several years ago Sonora High School began Community Based Instruction for students in special education who needed extra help in some classes but were able to cope in others. Some of the students were fragile physically, and others needed developmental help.
The district wished to switch to a special education model for these students that allowed them to stay within their community and learn their way around it. Prior to this time the same students were bused to Troy. This arrangement could at times be very inconvenient for the families when there were doctors’ appointments and other needs of their son or daughter to be met.
With some trepidation the program began, and it has worked extremely well from the beginning. Shortly after it began, special education teacher Paul Caffrey and English teacher Heather Gibson decided the students needed to become an integral part of the school and began discussing ways to make that happen.
Gibson pointed out Sonora was uniquely able to do that as it was an indoor school with most classes under the same roof which meant the students in CBI and in the school’s other programs regularly encountered one another during the day or at lunch time.
They came up with the idea of a Best Buds program. It would involve pairing a junior or senior student in standard classes with a CBI student. There would be monthly events such as a basketball game, scrapbook making, pumpkin patch day and many other things. And they would all be able to participate in the Special Olympics Day at Cal State Fullerton in May if they chose to do so.
One of the first to sign up when the program began was an athlete, Ryan Cress, whose brother was in the first CBI class. Ryan knew how much his brother wanted to play baseball and basketball, he once told Rotary members, and Ryan wanted to be sure he had a chance to do so.
Since that beginning the program has continued and grown. Today Gibson is in charge and running it. Caffrey transferred to La Habra High when he was offered the baseball coaching job there. Gibson usually picks juniors and seniors to be Best Buds and tries to pair them with CBI students who will finish Sonora at the same time so they may walk together at graduation.
This past year she had 200 students apply for 80 spots. I arranged to meet with several of the Best Buds. Shelby Longbotham joined the program and was paired with Tori Brazzel. Shelby said she joined because, ‘I just like it. You get to hang out all year with your buddy and get to know each other.” Tori, with gorgeous red hair, is pretty shy and a little uncomfortable talking to someone she doesn’t know, but she is able to work along side the custodial staff after school.
Norah Gomez explained she didn’t sing in last year’s talent show “because I’m shy and I was afraid people would laugh at me.” She also didn’t like that someone filmed her dancing like Michael Jackson saying “I didn’t want nobody to know I could moonwalk.” When several complimented her on her talent she did admit she might dance this year.
Her best bud Cynthia Barnett said, “Norah’s really fun to hang out with. We’ve gone swimming and to the game day.”
Travis Appleford is a freshman and has two best buds, Adriss Hakimi and Matt Cooley. They not only hang out with him at school but they also help his Challenger football team.
Last year the Best Buds had a dance with a two deejays who were former Sonora students and who volunteered their time.
Isaac Gonzalez remembers the conga line dances as his favorite time last year. Isaac heard the announcement last year and applied. He stays because “it’s fun.”
His bud is Kameron Wills. Kameron will destroy all your preconceived notions of CBI students. “ I raised a pig in 10th grade. Last year I raised a steer and this year I’m raising another steer. I play football and I wrestle,” Kameron said.
Kameron added, “And I’m in JROTC. I did a color guard and Now I’m Company Commander.”
Ms. Gibson pointed out that many of the CBI students were able to take computer classes, agriculture, health, or JROTC along with their CBI classes.
“I’m in JROTC too,” Marlene Rodriguez said with a big grin on her face. Earlier she had confided she liked to dance, but she preferred Spanish music for dancing, like Mariachis.
Her best bud Jessica Scott probably summed it up for all the other Best Buds when she said, “She [Marlene] just makes my day every time I see her.”
Sitting at the table are (left to right) Tori Brazzel, Shelby Longbotham, Marlene Rodriguez and Jessica Scott. In the second row l to r) that’s Ms. Heather Gibson, Matt Cooley, Adriss Hakimi, Travis Appleford in the Sonora shirt, Cynthia Barnett , Norah Gomez, and Isaac Gonzalez. Standing at the back right behind Travis is Kameron Wills.