DHS gets ‘The T.A.S.K. Force Grant

Contributed by: Mary Sanchez and Darlene Ourso, Special Education Teachers at Donaldsonville High School

The Ascension Fund is a nonprofit foundation that funds teacher grants.  It does this through donations from businesses and organizations. The Ascension Fund has awarded over $1.2 million in funds since its inception in 1991. This school year Donaldsonville High School was awarded six grants. One of those was The “T.A.S.K.” Force Grant. This grant enabled the school to develop a peer buddy program incorporating the regular education population of the school and students with special needs.  The purpose of the grant was three-fold:

Increase social interaction between the students with special needs and their regular education peers; Improve reading and writing skills through cooperative learning; Increase awareness of the differences we all possess through social interaction.

Donaldsonville High was very fortunate in having 11 students volunteer for the Buddy Program. The students with special needs and their buddies interacted during scheduled reading times, trips to the bowling alley to prepare for Special Olympics, trip to Dutchtown High School to prepare for Special Olympic athletic events, and a field trip to the zoo. The students and their buddies also shared a Thanksgiving meal and Christmas Gumbo together. Portions of both meals were prepared by the students with special needs during their cooking class.

Both the Peer Buddies and the students in the special needs classes are asking if this program will continue next year and it will.

The success of this program, “I believe can be summed up in this very special poem written by Horace Brewer to his buddy:”

“Never be discouraged and never look back

Keep moving forward and obtain what you lack

Dream big, dream high, more than the rest

Never give up because you are the best.

Enjoy your life, always with a smile

Always finish a race, even if a mile

John, you are a man capable of many things

So when you become happy, I hope memory rings.

“I am proud to be your buddy, so never give up, John.”