EDITORIAL: Buddies Program fosters friendship
Thumbs up: Everybody needs a buddy, and that’s a fact that is rings especially true for students on the autism spectrum.
Northeastern Middle School recognized this fact and created a solution — the Buddy Program.
Spearheaded by Principal Michael Alessandroni, who has an autistic daughter, the program gives autistic students a chance to spend time with the non-autistic population and vice versa.
The program gives autistic students social engagement, which Alessandroni said is one stumbling block for many with the disorder.
“Just watching them foster these conversations with people and seeing the growth and maturity is amazing,” program advisor Jen Yelinek said.
The student volunteers delight in the program. Many have family members with disabilities and are aware of the struggles of those with challenges.
“I’ve always wanted to help students who didn’t feel like they belonged,” Aspen Miller said. She has a cousin with autism.
We wish the program continued success and hope it will serve as a model for other schools to address the needs of their autistic populations.
Thumbs up: Among the graduations occurring this time of year, a very special one took place last week.
That was the commencement ceremony for the York County Treatment Court graduates.
York County's treatment courts, specializing in drug and alcohol addictions, mental health, DUI and veteran’s affairs, are designed to get to the root of a defendant’s problem and solve it, rather than simply punish an offender repeatedly.
The treatment program, which is more than a year long, aims to get people sober and productive. Apparently it’s working — it has only a 5 percent recidivism rate. It’s a chance for people to avoid jail time for drug possession.
Ellena Ness was a heroin addict facing a long jail term when she was introduced into the program.
“I’m definitely a different person,” she said. “I can’t imagine how I used to be.”
The ceremony was punctuated with cheers, tears and laughter.
Let us add our cheers of admiration for the treatment courts — and especially to those individuals who navigate its course.
It can’t be an easy journey.
Thumbs up: "Ask, and you shall receive" is a popular quote from the Bible. But in Ethan Hernandez’ case, he didn’t even have to ask, thanks to a charitable duo.
The Lincoln Charter School fifth-grader struck up a conversation with visiting educator Hope Hoover-Armstead. The two talked about 3-D printing, and she could sense his enthusiasm for the topic.
She shared the story of the conversation with her adult son, Ryan Armstead, a 3-D print hobbyist.
Seemingly without hesitation, he bought the school not one, but two 3-D printers for students to use.
Still the kindness from the Armstead crew persisted. Hope invited Ethan’s class for a meal at McDonald’s (she is an owner/operator) to unveil the new additions and show some of the items Ryan made on his printer.
"This printer will allow a student to have an imagination," Lincoln Charter School Principal and CEO Leonard Hart said.
No doubt, the printers will give students an outlet to use their creativity and perhaps expand their interests of what they may want to choose as a career.
Our kudos go to Hope and Ryan, who recognized what motivated this student and acted to keep that enthusiasm alive. That's what education is all about.