The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Special-Ed inclusivity a highlight of AHS

One of the most beautiful things about AHS is how accepting it is of absolutely anyone- races, ethnic groups, nationalities.

However it does not end there. Another aspect of AHS’s inclusion and one of the great prides of AHS is its special education department and the students and teachers therein.

This is highlighted through events such as the recent Inclusion Revolution week, from earlier this month, which was a lead up to Heritage Night, a more than two hour celebration of culture.

Inclusion Revolution was a week of different spirit days that featured a Fan Quest Pep Rally during Pride Time where the Atoms Special Olympics team challenged Lewis to a game of basketball.

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There are several pep rallies like that every year, and are always a success. While they start off with students being typically unengaging and quiet, when the game starts, students are on their feet cheering on the team.

These events are a remarkable way for the AHS community to grow closer. Similarly to the diversity of the student body at AHS, these events are not found at other schools.

Indeed, inclusion is central to the identity of AHS.

“Our vision states we are a community that finds strength in diversity,” Principal Shawn DeRose said. “Our Inclusion Revolution, Fan Quest Pep Rally, and Heritage Night are just some of the many opportunities for our entire school to come together to celebrate our diversity.”

Several clubs are offered at AHS to offer social interaction and aim to increase inclusion for students with disabilities, a population that can feel excluded and isolated.

Another club similar to Special Olympics is Best Buddies.

Although not sport related like the former, it builds “one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), offering social interactions while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion for a population that is often isolated and excluded,” according to the organizations website.

Such clubs are extremely important because they create meaningful connections, help students with IDD gain confidence, feel respected, further a sense of belonging, and have fun participating in activities.

This sense of inclusion can be traced back to the unique makeup of the AHS student body, which is unlike any other high school in Virginia.

Because everyone knows nearly everyone else comes from an entirely different background than their own, this creates a mutual unspoken respect.

I recently learned that not all high schools allow for pictures of students with special needs to be posted on school-based Instagram accounts.

This is out of the fear of other students making fun of them, an idea foreign- though not non-existent- in the context of the Annandale community.

This example furthers the importance of AHS successfully building a culture backed by inclusivty and acceptance.

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About the Contributor
Shane Gomez, Co-Editor in Chief

Senior Shane Gomez is the Co-Editor in Chief of the A-Blast. He was Editorials Editor as a sophomore and junior and a Staff Writer as a freshman. He is pursuing the IB Diploma and he can be found frequenting clubs and organizations such as AWC, AYSO, ABC, AA, CFAC, HSC, SHF, MUN, NHS, NEHS, NSSHS, SNHS, VWA, and YMG. He likes to thrift, hangout, and watch movies. He looks forward to graduating.

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