Learning from each other: Warrior Buddies offers unique perspective for those involved

Warrior Buddies, a program uniting regular education students with special needs students at Western Alamance High School, has been named April's Students of the Month. / Photo submitted

By Allison Tate
Times-News correspondent

   As the school year starts to wind down, it can be difficult for high school students to make time for everything they need to get done. Homework, exams, sports and daily life all leave little time for anything else. But a special group at Western Alamance known as the Warrior Buddies is making time for an extraordinary cause — friendship.
Warrior Buddies has been uniting special needs students and regular education students for several years. The group was started by Kenneth Lockner to bring together the two groups of students and give each side a new perspective.
“Too often, our special needs population was self-contained all day without contact with our regular education students. Warrior Buddies was designed to get those two groups in contact with each other,” Lockner said.
Through the group, Lockner said that he can see a positive change in all of the students involved. The regular education students get a stronger sense of empathy and a greater appreciation for the things that they have.
They also get to see a different form of education than what they are used to while learning to love and respect people who live life a little differently. Those with special needs get to meet new students and experience a change in their daily routine.
Jan Bouldin nominated the Warrior Buddy program for April’s Students of the Month bcause “this group of kids helps the Exceptional Children’s class when they go on field trips such as Special Olympics, but they do so much more. They stop by our kids’ class and talk to them and treat them like the friends that they have become. They have allowed our kids to enjoy the whole high school experience to the fullest.” Her son, Ben, is in the Exceptional Children’s class at Western Alamance High School.
Ty Parker, a member of Warrior Buddies, joined the group because of his passion for special education.
“I think it’s very important for both student groups to interact with each other, so I think it makes both groups collectively better in general.”
Another student, Victoria Zangotsis, joined Warrior Buddies “to make a difference in the lives of students with special needs.” For the past four years, Victoria has made valuable friendships with special needs students. “They never fail to put a smile on my face and brighten my day.”
“The Special Olympics T-shirt states ‘there is no ‘dis’ in our abilities!’ Western’s Warrior Buddies help our kids show their abilities every day,” Bouldin said.
Too often there seems to be a divide between students with special needs and regular education students in schools. Warrior Buddies not only bridges that divide, it gets rid of it completely. It proves that anyone has the capability to reach their full potential so long as they have the support of true friends.

 Allison Tate is a freshman at Alamance Community College and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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