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Friday’s Friends Are Amazing Heroes

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Friday's Friends,

Friday's Friends, "Hand in Hand We Can Make a Difference"

Photo Credit: Photo via Public Domain Pictures Under the Creative Commons License

Photo Credit: Photo via Public Domain Pictures Under the Creative Commons License

Friday's Friends, "Hand in Hand We Can Make a Difference"

By: Emily Vogler, Spring Reporter

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At Colonia Middle School, there is a class for the eighth grade class called Friday’s Friends. When the students are in seventh grade, they get a piece of paper. They have to bring it in signed by a parent or guardian and bring it back within a few days. The class is first come first serve so it is recommended to bring it in the next day.

As of now, Colonia Middle School is the only school with this program. The teacher of this class right now is Ms. Skiba. In an interview she said, “Friday’s Friends was created so that special education students could be integrated into the fabric of the school community. It is to provide them with peer mentors to assist them with the necessary social skills to assist them with better functionality in our society. Children with special needs have the most difficult challenges in this area which often makes it difficult for members of society to accept them.  Friday’s Friends can be the ones to teach the other students of our school how exceptional these children truly are.  They have special abilities and gifts that should be shown off to the world.”

This program all started with a different Language Arts teacher before Ms. Skiba took over. Skiba said, “The Language Arts teacher before me, Ms. Jane Gnadinger, used to take her 8th graders to visit the Special Education students read to them and make books.  She asked me to continue the visits after she left when I took over her classes in January 2011. My first full year was 2011-2012.  I decided that the program needed more activities, holiday themes, outside time and maybe a field trip. My students and I decided the group should have a name and a logo and that was how Friday’s Friends was born. After this point, the program has grown from 1/2 hour every Friday of my Language Arts classes to an elective class for 8th graders.”

In this class they do many different things. They go on class trips, teach them, play games, go outside on the playground with them, and much more. Ms. Skiba tries her best to make this class as fun as possible while making it a learning experience.

A sophomore at Colonia High School, Brianna Araujo, was in this class when she was in eighth grade. In an interview she said, “I did in fact like being in Friday’s Friends. The reason why is because it gave me a sense of purpose. Like I had a job and a duty to help the kids that participated in the program. It made me feel good about myself knowing that I could make a difference in another person’s life by just spending an hour or so with them. Not only that but it was fun, the time spent in that class is one that I would never take back and I am glad I got to be a part of the program.”

In this class you create a lot of good memories. Araujo said, “My favorite memory in the class would have to be meeting this little girl named Allison. She was the sweetest person you would ever meet in your whole entire life. She did not speak much and only had one friend but when she did open up to you and talk, she was so kind-hearted and beautiful. I also loved when we held a basketball game for the Friday’s Friends children. A few of the students and I cheered for them while others kept score or played alongside them. Seeing the smiles and happiness shown across their faces made everything worthwhile.”

Now you might want to know how they get money to do all of those things. It all started out with the help of the Principal, Mrs. Lagunovich. “She would assist by paying for bussing on a field trip or pizza for a party as she could through our school’s Student Activity Fund. As the program grew, however, this practice became more difficult due to the size of the cost,” Skiba said.

Since the program was growing more and more, they had to do more fundraising. They decided to hold pajama days and cupcake sales. In an interview Skiba said, “Then Ms. Saylor, our vice-principal at the time, came up with the idea for a large student-faculty basketball game.  Many teachers, parents and community members helped us to create a program, a basket raffle and refreshment area. In the end, we raised over $8000 and began a new Friday’s Friends tradition. Finally, the publicity and the buzz created in the Township brought our program to the attention to the executives of CPV Energy, a company that was recently building a plant in our area.  They were looking for a program to invest in. They gratefully chose us and pledged to provide us $5000. a year for the next 10 years.”

An eighth grade student at Colonia Middle School now in this class, Olivia Vogler, said that her favorite memory so far is going to the Turtle Back Zoo. She also said she loves this class because she “enjoys working with the kids and teaching them new things as well as them teaching me.”

Not only is this a fun class and a good experience for the special needs students but it is also good for the eighth grade class to experience and learn more about themselves and the people around them. Friday’s Friends is such a unique and special class, it is a class that will never be forgotten. A lot of amazing memories are created.
This class is something that no one should want to miss out on. Skiba said, “I think it is important for 8th graders to get involved in, especially before high school, because it teaches such important life lessons. It reminds you to be human.  It teaches patience and compassion.  We also work on lessons in teamwork, communication and leadership.  My hope is that students in the program will be strong individuals when they enter high school.”

To see more about Friday’s Friends you can follow them on twitter,  https://twitter.com/CMSFriFriends and you can watch their videos on Youtube.

 

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Friday’s Friends Are Amazing Heroes